Mahathir’s tweet sparks uproar

PETALING JAYA: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s controversial tweet relating to a deadly knife attack in a French church has stoked anger among international and local leaders and prominent figures.

Many have since described the former premier’s statements as hate speech.

US Ambassador to Malaysia Kamala Shirin Lakhdir has criticised the former premier’s purported endorsement of violence.

“I extend my deepest condolences to the families of the victims and to the people of France in the wake of the terrible attacks in Nice and Paris.

“I strongly disagree with Dr Mahathir’s recent statement. Freedom of expression is a right, calling for violence is not, ” Kamala said in a statement yesterday.

On Thursday, Twitter removed one of Dr Mahathir’s tweets which was part of a long thread, initially marking it as “glorifying violence” in relation to a knife attack at the Notre-Dame basilica in Nice in France, where three people were killed and several others injured.

In one of the 13 now-removed tweets, Dr Mahathir wrote that “Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past”, adding that Muslims, however, have not taken vengeance in this way.

Several hours after those tweets, which were also posted on his blog, Twitter removed them, and replaced them with the message: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules.”

France’s Junior Digital Affairs Minister Cédric O said he had spoken to the managing director of Twitter France to immediately suspend Dr Mahathir’s official account.

“If not, Twitter would be an accomplice to murder, ” he tweeted.

Australia’s High Commissioner to Malaysia Andrew Goledzinowski said in a retweet quoting Dr Mahathir’s tweet that he was “deeply disturbed” by the latter’s remark.

“I know that he has not, and would not, advocate actual violence.

“But in the current climate, words can have consequences, ” he wrote.

According to Sydney Morning Herald, former Australian ambassador to France Brendan Berne has labelled the 95-year-old former premier a “bigot without principle”.

Written originally in French, Berne said the Australians know Dr Mahathir well for making provocative comments.

“We Australians know this man, who likes to provoke very well. He is a bigot without principle except those of attacking the Western world.

“Believe me, he loves buying luxury goods from LVMH in Paris. A pious hypocrite, ” he said.

During a radio interview in Sydney on Thursday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also lambasted Dr Mahathir’s remarks, saying they were “absurd and abhorrent”.

“The only thing that should be said today is to completely condemn those attacks.

“The only response is to be utterly, utterly devastated, ” he said.

Also weighing in was the German Embassy here, which said it is dismayed at the language used by Dr Mahathir.

“The order of the day is a de-escalation of words and solidarity with the victims of violence. Germany shares the pain and sorrow of her close partner and friend France, ” it said on Facebook yesterday.

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