Mahathir Mohamad's 'abhorrent' comments on Nice terrorist attack condemned

Australian PM Scott Morrison says former Malaysian PM’s remarks on French terrorist attack were ‘absurd’

Mahathir Mohamad
Mahathir Mohamad’s comments that Muslims have a right to ‘kill millions of French people’ were condemned as ‘absurd and abhorrent’ by Australian prime minister Scott Morrison. Photograph: Ahmad Yusni/EPA
Mahathir Mohamad’s comments that Muslims have a right to ‘kill millions of French people’ were condemned as ‘absurd and abhorrent’ by Australian prime minister Scott Morrison. Photograph: Ahmad Yusni/EPA
and Australian Associated Press

First published on Thu 29 Oct 2020 21.52 GMT

Scott Morrison has labelled as “absurd and abhorrent” statements by Malaysia’s former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad that Muslims have a right to “kill millions of French people”, following the terrorist attack in Nice that left three people dead.

On Thursday, a man armed with a knife beheaded a woman and killed two other people at a church in the city of Nice. Hours later police killed a man who threatened passers-by with a handgun near the southern French city of Avignon, and in Saudi Arabia a man was arrested after attacking and injuring a guard at the French consulate in Jeddah.

In a long string of tweets, Mahathir wrote about cultural clashes between the western and Islamic world, and condemned the French president, Emmanuel Macron, for linking Thursday’s attack to Islam.

He wrote that “Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past” in a post that was subsequently removed by Twitter.

“But by and large, the Muslims have not applied the ‘eye for an eye’ law. Muslims don’t. The French shouldn’t,” Mahathir said.

“Since you have blamed all Muslims and the Muslims’ religion for what was done by one angry person, the Muslims have a right to punish the French,” he said, referring the killing of a French teacher earlier in the month who was murdered after he displayed a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad to his class.

On Friday morning the Australian prime minister addressed Mahathir’s comments on Sydney radio 2GB, calling them “absurd and abhorrent”.

“The only thing that should be said today is to completely condemn those attacks,” Morrison said. “The only response is to be utterly, utterly devastated.”

Morrison said the French attacks were “the most callous and cowardly and vicious act of barbarism by a terrorist and should be condemned in the strongest possible way”.

The prime minister contacted Macron overnight to say Australia stood with France.

“The heartache that would be going across the French people today as it shudders through the rest of the world is hard to put into words,” Morrison said.

Most leaders around the world have condemned the Nice attack, which was reportedly carried out by a 21-year-old Tunisian migrant who had recently entered France from Italy.

One victim has been identified as Vincent Loqués, a 55-year-old father of two children. He reportedly had his throat cut. The other people killed were a woman aged 60 and a 44-year-old woman named in Brazilian press as Simone Barreto Silva, a mother of three and originally from Salvador.

“This is a very awful thing that has occurred,” Morrison said. “Just at a sheer human level, the only response is just to be utterly, utterly devastated by this and to stand with those and the families who are suffering so much.”