From Muin Abdul Majid
NEW YORK, Sept 26 — Accused of being anti-Semitic, Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad contends that he is merely exercising his right to free speech when commenting on the Jews.
“Why is it that I can’t say something against the Jews when a lot of people say nasty things about me, about Malaysia, and I didn’t protest, I didn’t demonstrate,” he said.
Dr Mahathir, who is in town for the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, underscored that people had to be willing to listen to views which were not in their favour because of free speech.
“Free speech is about free speech; when you say, no you cannot say this, you cannot be anti-Semitic, then there is no more free speech,” Dr Mahathir said in response to a question from the floor at the World Leaders Forum here on Wednesday.
Dr Mahathir has reportedly in the past questioned the number of Jews who died during the Holocaust.
He recalled that a journalist had even been sentenced to jail for disputing the numbers.
“I have said who determined these numbers. If it is somebody who is in favour you get one figure, and somebody against, we get another figure.
“So I accept that there was a Holocaust, that there were many Jews killed. And in fact at one time I was very sympathetic towards them during the war,” Dr Mahathir said.
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