Calling French President Emmanuel Macron “primitive” in blaming Islam and Muslims for the beheading earlier this month of a school teacher in a Paris suburb, Malaysia’s former premier said Thursday that France should teach its citizens to respect other people’s feelings.
"But by and large, the Muslims have not applied the ‘eye for an eye’ law. Muslims don’t," Mahathir Mohamad said on Twitter, although noting that "Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past."
France is accused of committing mass murder during its colonialist era in countries such as Algeria, which was under French occupation for over 130 years and where over 1.5 million Algerians were killed.
Mahathir said French people should be taught to respect other religions.
Touching on the French president’s remarks, he noted that Macron is not a civilized.
"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."
While he rejected the brutal murder of Samuel Paty, who was killed by an 18-year-old of Chechen origin, he stressed that insulting other people and religions cannot be seen as freedom of expression.
"The killing is not an act that as a Muslim I would approve [...] You cannot go up to a man and curse him simply because you believe in freedom of speech," he added.
But “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," Mahathir said, referring to boycott campaigns in many countries against French products, although he added that it cannot compensate for France's wrongs through history.
Earlier this month, Macron described Islam as “a religion in crisis" and announced plans for tougher laws to tackle “Islamist separatism” in France.
Tensions escalated further after the murder on Oct. 16 of Paty, a middle school teacher who showed blasphemous cartoons of Prophet Muhammad during one of his classes on freedom of expression.
Macron defended the caricatures, saying France would “not give up our cartoons."
Insulting cartoons by Charlie Hebdo, a weekly French magazine, were also projected on buildings in a few cities.
Since then, there have been international condemnations and calls to boycott French products as well as protests in many parts of the Muslim world.