Hours after an attack in France’s Nice city in which a woman was beheaded and two others were killed at a church on Thursday, former Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad said that Muslims have the right to kill millions of French people for the massacres of past.
“Muslims have the right to be angry and kill millions of French for the massacres of the past. The French should teach their people to respect other people’s feelings,” Mahathir tweeted.
In a blog post, the 95-year-old, who is a respected leader in the Muslim world, however, said that he did not approve the killing of a French teacher over his use of cartoons of the Prophet.
Mahathir said he believed in freedom of expression but that it should not be used to insult others. “But by and large the Muslims have not applied the ‘eye for an eye’ law. Muslims don’t. The French shouldn’t,” Mahathir said in a blog post, which he also posted on Twitter.
“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.
Twitter said the message violated its rules and it had removed the tweet.
The attack was condemned by India along with several other countries. PM Narendra Modi took to Twitter and expressed support to France against terrorism. “Our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and the people of France. India stands with France in the fight against terrorism,” he tweeted.
Many Muslim-majority countries have denounced remarks by French officials, including President Emmanuel Macron, defending the use of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a French school classroom. The caricatures are seen as blasphemous by Muslims.
The dispute flared after a French teacher who showed his pupils satirical cartoons of the Prophet during a civics lesson was later beheaded in the street by an attacker of Chechen origin.
French officials said the killing was an attack on the core French value of freedom of expression and defended the right to publish the cartoons. Macron has also said he would redouble efforts to stop conservative Islamic beliefs subverting French values.