PETALING JAYA: The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) has demanded that former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad issues a public apology over a controversial statement he made over the recent religion-motivated attacks in France.
It said Dr Mahathir should use his position and seniority as a public figure to educate the masses and promote the elimination of all forms of discrimination, rather than abusing social media platforms to provoke and incite hostility.
“Dr Mahathir must issue a public apology for his remarks without further delay and issue a retraction statement.
"His blog posting on the matter must also be taken down immediately, ” said CIJ in a statement on Friday (Oct 30).
Earlier on Thursday (Oct 29), Twitter removed one of Dr Mahathir’s tweets which was part of a long thread, marking it as “glorifying violence”.
Dr Mahathir had tweeted that “Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past, ” he said, adding that Muslims, however, did not take vengeance in this way.
CIJ said while freedom of expression was recognised by international law, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) stated that people should be free from incitement to discrimination.
It said a person of Dr Mahathir’s public standing carried with him a larger responsibility of being careful with his words and refraining from hate speeches due to wider repercussions.
“As such, it is alarming and grossly irresponsible of the former prime minister to propagate the above-listed message as such virulent and hate-laden statements may trigger the worst of actions, such as provoking imminent violence or crimes, ” it added.
CIJ also accused Dr Mahathir of being misogynistic, citing the former premier’s remarks on Thursday (Oct 29) which touched on how men and women were physically different and “this limits our capacity to be equal”.
It also cited Dr Mahathir's comment on the dress code of European women.
“He (Dr Mahathir) must apologise for his outdated and misogynistic views on women and equality, ” CIJ added.
Dr Mahathir’s controversial tweets came just a few hours after a knife attack at the Notre-Dame basilica in Nice, France, where three people were killed and others injured.