To the defence of Dr Mahathir

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 18 Oct 2003

PUTRAJAYA: Muslim leaders came to the defence of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad after his opening address at the 10th OIC Summit was misconstrued as a call to Islamic nations to take up arms against the Jews. 

Iranian president Mohammed Khatami expressed support for Dr Mahathir, saying that the Malaysian leader’s speech had relayed the realities and atrocities faced by the Muslim world.  

“The only way to fight this is advancement in science and technology and the establishment of democratic governments through representatives in parliament. 

“In this way, nobody can coerce us because they will face strong nations and strong people. We totally support his views,” he said. 

Pakistani president Gen Pervez Musharraf said it was Dr Mahathir’s right to give his views, adding that he did not think that the prime minister had wanted “to start a war with the Jews.” 

ONE IN FAITH:Dr Mahathir accompanied by Bosnian President SulejmanTihic (on his right)at the Putra mosque in Putrajaya yesterday.

Indonesian president Megawati Sukarnoputri said the misinterpretation by the foreign media on Dr Mahathir’s speech was indicative of the information gap between Muslim and non-Muslim countries. 

“That is why there should be more communication between these two sides, to put through the real message of Islam, which is essentially one of tolerance and moderation.  

“We have to put across our own values,” she said. 

Somalia president Abdikassim Salad Hassan said he was surprised that the foreign press had missed the gist of Dr Mahathir’s speech. 

“My entourage and I found Dr Mahathir's speech very straightforward and in-depth. He was not trying to incite hatred or incite the Muslims to go to war against the Jews but in fact his speech was about unity to face the threats from the Jews. 

“There was no mention of war but solidarity, a message of peace within the Islamic world and Dr Mahathir wanted to extend it to people of other religions like the Christians or the Jews so that we can live in peace. 

“There was no mention of war and I cannot understand how this came about because we are now struggling with removing the terrorism equation to Islam. 

“Peace is what we want and we must start among ourselves before facing threats from Islam's enemies.”  

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Maher said Dr Mahathir’s address was a pep talk for Muslim countries to work hard and look to the future. 

“But as soon as you have any criticism against Israel, there are people who are very eager to condemn, even without reading, without understanding, without comprehending what it is all about,” he said. 

Palestinian foreign minister Farouq Kaddoumi said Dr Mahathir spoke the truth and called upon Israel to “stop the atrocities against us.” 

“We, the Muslims, seek peace. We love peace but the others, they encroach on the rights of Muslim countries. 

“Each time we condemn Israeli aggression, they accused us of being anti-Semitic.” 

Bangladesh foreign minister Morshed Khan, when told that the foreign press also compared Dr Mahathir to Osama bin Laden, burst into laughter and said: “I have nothing to say. This can be the joke of the century. I cannot see how they can come up with such interpretations. 

“The mood of the conference was such that we rather live in harmony than clash or be involved in confrontation with each other. 

“I was inspired by Dr Mahathir’s remedies and vision for the Islamic world, especially the OIC when he talked about harmony rather than confrontation, and he talked about solving conflicts through dialogues within the ummah and beyond.” 

Dr Mahathir's remarks that “Jews rule the world by proxy” also offended the United States and the European Union which felt it was an invitation to anti-Semitic crimes. 

Reports from foreign wires quoted in newspapers worldwide had Dr Mahathir saying that Muslims worldwide must be united and armed against the Jews. 

Dr Mahathir actually called on the 1.3 billion Muslims to overcome their problems in non-militant ways and draw upon their unity and strength to improve their clout.  

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