Open letter to Mohamad Mahatir

20/10/2003
Press release
en fr

Excellency,

We are writing you to express our deepest concern in relation to the speech you made at the opening of the tenth session of the Islamic Summit Conference on 16 October.

You said on that occasion : "1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews. There must be a way. And we can only find a way if we stop to think, to assess our weaknesses and our strength, to plan, to strategise and then to counter attack.(...) The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them".

On 20 October, you reiterated your statement.

Our organisations consider that such blunt declarations are merely racist and encourage hate among religious communities. Heads of States and governments should play a constructive role with regard to the Middle East conflict and certainly not encourage hate and violence through demagogic statements.

The policy of Israel with regard to Palestinians is in blatant violation of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. Our organisations, and the FIDH in particular, repeatedly condemns such violations and makes all the efforts to support human rights defenders and peace movements in Palestine and in Israel. Dialogue only can bring the conflict to an end.

However, condemnation of Israeli government’s policy can in no way give rise to antisemitic declarations targeting Jews in general. Such confusion can only feed fanatism and violence. It is probably also an easy way for authoritarian regimes to avoid internal criticism by drawing the attention on a hot external issue.

Finally, referring to freedom of expression to justify your alleged right to incite to racial and religious hate and violence is not only unacceptable ; it is just inadmissible : it is a basic principle in international human rights law that human rights can in no way be used to justify further violations of other rights.

The FIDH and Suaram will trigger appropriate UN mechanisms

The FIDH and Suaram urge you to withdraw your declarations.

Sincerely yours

On behalf of FIDH and SUARAM,

Sidiki Kaba
President of the FIDH

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