Malaysia’s Mahathir Says French Attack Remarks ‘Taken out of Context’

Former Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad attacked his critics Friday, saying he is “disgusted” his comments on attacks by Islamic extremists in France were taken out of context to harm him and “stir hatred for Muslims.” He cautioned the time has come for the French to “teach their people to respect other people’s feelings.”

Mahathir, 95, sparked global outrage when he wrote on his blog Thursday, “Muslims have a right to be angry and kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past,” as Breitbart News reported.

The remark came in a rambling discourse in which he called French President Emmanuel Macron “primitive,” and complained women in the West do not wear enough clothing.

Twitter removed a tweet from Mahathir to his 1.3 million followers containing the remarks, which it said glorified violence while France’s digital minister demanded the company also ban him from its platform.

“I am indeed disgusted with attempts to misrepresent and take out of context what I wrote on my blog,” Mahathir said in his riposte, as reported by the Associated Press.

He said critics failed to read his posting in full, especially the next sentence which read: “But by and large 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.”

He alleged Twitter and Facebook removed the posting despite his explanation, and slammed the move as hypocritical.

“On the one hand, they defended those who chose to display offending caricatures of Prophet Muhammad … and expect all Muslims to swallow it in the name of freedom of speech and expression,” he said.

“On the other, they deleted deliberately that Muslims had never sought revenge for the injustice against them in the past … what is promoted by these reaction to my article is to stir French hatred for Muslims,” the ex-prime minister added.

The U.S. ambassador to Malaysia, Kamala Shirin Lakhdir, said Friday she “strongly disagreed” with Mahathir’s statement. “Freedom of expression is a right, calling for violence is not,” she said in a brief official note.

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