Former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahatir Muhammad’s statement on Twitter has made rounds in the international media, and it has been claimed that he stated that Muslims have the right to kill millions of French people. The Statement has been taken out of context and exaggerated. The complete statement on Dr. Mahatir’s own blog is more comprehensive.
Dr. Mahatir on his blog said that, “Macron is not showing that he is civilised. He is very primitive in blaming the religion of Islam and Muslims for the killing of the insulting school teacher. It is not in keeping with the teachings of Islam. But irrespective of the religion professed, angry people kill. The French in the course of their history has killed millions of people. Many were Muslims.
Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past. 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.
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. The boycott cannot compensate the wrongs committed by the French all these years.”
The statement implies that stereotyping any religion or race is harmful. President Emmanuel Macron has stereotyped all Muslims for the acts that some, what Dr. Mahatir called ‘angry people,’ have committed.
“The killing is not an act that as a Muslim I would approve. But while I believe in the freedom of expression, I do not think it includes insulting other people. You cannot go up to a man and curse him simply because you believe in freedom of speech,” Dr. Mahatir said in his statement.
France’s absence of freedoms in Algerian colony
France officially acknowledged for the first time that it carried out systematic torture during Algeria’s independence war in 2018– a landmark admission about conduct in the conflict which ended 56 years ago and that has been shrouded in secrecy and denials, ‘The Guardian’ had reported.
The president, Emmanuel Macron, had said France instigated a “system” that led to torture during the Algeria conflict, and the past must now be faced with “courage and lucidity”.
1. A teacher in France had his throat slit by an 18-year-old Chechen boy. The killer was angered by the teacher showing a caricature of Prophet Muhammad. The teacher intended to demonstrate freedom of expression.
— Dr Mahathir Mohamad (@chedetofficial) October 29, 2020
Macron used the case of the mathematician Maurice Audin, a Communist pro-independence activist who disappeared in 1957, to make a far-reaching comment about France’s sanctioning of torture, going further than any previous president.
The Elysée said Macron would acknowledge in a letter to be presented to Audin’s widow and family on Thursday afternoon that Audin “died under torture stemming from the system instigated while Algeria was part of France”.
During the 1954-62 war, which claimed 1.5 million Algerian lives, French forces brutally cracked down on independence fighters in the then colony, which was ruled by Paris for 130 years.
The French state had never previously admitted that its military forces routinely used torture. During the war the government censored newspapers, books and films that claimed it had used torture, and after the war the atrocities committed by its troops remained a taboo subject in French society.
Sylvie Thenault, a historian, said the French state’s acknowledgment that Audin’s death resulted from a “system” pointed to a broader recognition of wrongdoing.
Another historian, Raphaëlle Branche, told Le Monde: “It will no longer be possible to deny the systematic nature of torture in Algeria.”
Benjamin Stora, an expert on Algeria and the head of France’s museum of the history of immigration, who has advised Macron on the issue, said: “This declaration will leave an indelible mark.”
He wrote in Le Monde: “Are we, at last, coming out of this kind of amnesia over a war that was for so long never named?”
Macron’s statement was seen as the latest important official French recognition of 20th-century events.
The most significant move by France to face its history came in 1995 when the then president, Jacques Chirac, acknowledged that France as a whole was responsible for the roundup of 76,000 Jews sent to Nazi death camps during the second world war.
Eye for an eye
Dr. Mahatir’s statement means that although the French systematically brutalized and murdered countless ‘Muslims’ and other people in its colonial past, it is not okay to stereotype ‘French people’ as murderers and brutalizers. It is hence not okay to stereotype Muslims for acts that are not systematic and individualistic actions.
In Algeria, French imperialists enforced the removal of the veil and banned native Algerian Muslims from obtaining citizenship unless they dropped their belief in Islam and their use of the Arabic or Amazigh languages.
The culmination of such policies was the brutal war against the Algerian independence movement, which ended in 1962 with the French withdrawal but only after the deaths of at least a million Algerians.
GVS News Desk