A former prime minister of Malaysia has landed himself in controversy after he made a controversial statement, stating that Muslims have a right “to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past”.
PM Mahathir Mohamad’s comments came after a woman was beheaded and two others killed in a knife attack at a church in Nice in southern France on Thursday.
On 16 October, a history teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded in broad daylight outside his school by an Islamic terrorist for showing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in the class. The murder sparked massive outrage in the country and drew condemnation from political parties and President Emmanuel Macron, who called the crime an “Islamist terrorist attack”.
Two weeks before that, France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, had sparked criticism when he decided to expel 231 Islamic extremists from the country to combat “separatism” and claimed that Islam was “experiencing a crisis today, all over the world”.
The former Malaysian leader, who was prime minister from 2018 until March this year, commented on the murder on Thursday by arguing that Muslims would not approve of the killing but warned that France should “not show disrespect for the values of others”.
“Macron is not showing that he is civilised. He is very primitive in blaming the religion of Islam and Muslims for the killing of the insulting school teacher,” Mr Mahathir said.
“It is not in keeping with the teachings of Islam.”
He added: “But irrespective of the religion professed, angry people kill. The French in the course of their history have killed millions of people. Many were Muslims.
“Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past.
“But by and large, the Muslims have not applied the ‘eye for an eye’ law. Muslims don’t. The French shouldn’t. Instead the French should teach their people to respect other people’s feelings.”
Mr Mahathir’s statement attracted a lot of criticism from social media users. He faced a lot of flak for his comment, as a result of which his comment was taken down from Twitter.
“Take this down urgently, @TwitterSupport,” Brian Klaas, an associate professor in global politics at University College London, wrote in response to the tweets.
“It’s an incitement to mass killing by a former prime minister of Malaysia with more than a million followers. How has this been allowed to stay up for over an hour?!”