A junior minister of France has called today for social media platform Twitter to suspend Mahathir’s account, following a controversial tweet on Muslims and France that is part of a longer thread.
In a post, Cédric O, the French secretary of state for digital and telecommunications, said he has brought up the matter with the managing director of the Twitter office in France.
“The account of @chedetofficial must be immediately suspended. If not, @Twitter would be an accomplice to a formal call for murder,” he posted on Twitter, tagging Mahathir’s account.
Earlier today, Twitter had marked the tweet as “glorifying violence”, but kept it intact, citing its policy on keeping tweets of public interest.
The tweet has now been completely removed by Twitter for violating its rules.
Prior to the action, the tweet saying “Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past.” had received thousands of replies and retweets worldwide, many condemning it.
The remarks were part of a paragraph where Mahathir continued with: “But by and large the Muslims have not applied the ‘eye for an eye’ law. Muslims don’t. The French shouldn’t. Instead the French should teach their people to respect other people’s feelings.”
Earlier, Mahathir published a blog post suggesting that Muslims “have the right to punish” the French for their alleged wrongs committed against the community, amid escalating violence in France.
Posted just a few hours after a knife attack outside Nice, France that killed three people and injured others, the former prime minister said Muslims also deserve to be angry and a boycott against the republic will not even suffice.
Mahathir’s post came as a knife-wielding attacker shouting “Allahu Akbar” beheaded a woman and killed two other people in a suspected terrorist attack at a church in the French city of Nice today.
The attack comes while France is still reeling from the beheading earlier this month of French middle school teacher Samuel Paty by a man of Chechen origin.
Since Paty’s killing, French officials — backed by many ordinary citizens — have re-asserted the right to display the cartoons, and the images have been widely displayed at marches in solidarity with the killed teacher.
That has prompted an outpouring of anger in parts of the Muslim world, with some governments accusing French leader Emmanuel Macron of pursuing an anti-Islam agenda.
Meanwhile, also speaking on Twitter, the Pekan MP Najib Razak said the world “should calm down” and read Mahathir’s statement in its full context.
“I am sure he did not mean exactly what he said. And even if he did, it is his personal opinion not Malaysia’s,” he said.
However, Najib also took a dig at Mahathir, adding that “someone” should take away all his social media accounts before he does more damage.
His series of tweets has since drawn condemnation both domestically and from abroad, particularly from Australian diplomats and the country’s prime minister Scott Morrison.
Sydney Morning Herald reported former Australian ambassador to France Brendan Berne referring to Mahathir as a “pious hypocrite”.
“As Australians, we know very well that this is a man who likes to provoke. He is a bigot without principles, except those of attacking the Western world,” he wrote in French.
Berne recently ended his three-year tenure in Paris on October 16 and has since resettled in Nice. It is understood that he was at the Notre-Dame Basilica less than 24 hours before it was attacked yesterday.
Similarly, High Commissioner of Australia to Malaysia Andrew Goledzinowski said he found Mahathir’s remarks deeply disturbing.
“I know that he has not, and would not, advocated actual violence. But in the current climate, words can have consequences,” he said on Twitter.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also slammed Mahathir for his remarks, calling them 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.
“This was the most callous and cowardly and vicious act of barbarism by a terrorist, and should be condemned in the strongest possible way,” he said during an interview with Sydney-based radio station 2GB this morning.
Earlier report: Oct 30, Twitter Marks Dr M’s “Right to Be Angry” Post as “Glorifying Violence”