Tue, Feb 25, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Mahathir criticizes `double standards'


Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad slammed Israel and Western nations for causing a global upsurge in terrorism, saying religious extremists were only reacting to "blatant double standards" in the treatment of Palestinians and Iraq.

In his speech yesterday at the opening of the 13th summit of non-aligned nations in Malaysia's largest city, Mahathir warned that the US-led war on terrorism had degenerated into a campaign to dominate nonwhite nations.

"Since Sept. 11 the rich and powerful have become enraged with the poor half of the world," he said. "Their extreme measures to ensure security for themselves have only amplified the anger of the oppressed poor."

Although Malaysia has been a close US ally in the war on terrorism, Mahathir has repeatedly stressed that Washington should address root causes of militancy, rather than simply using military force to quash it.

"If we think back, there was no systematic campaign of terror outside Europe until the Europeans and the Jews created a Jewish state out of Palestinian land," Mahathir told delegates in his opening speech.

"The blatant double standard is what infuriates Muslims, infuriates them to the extent of launching their own terror attacks," Mahathir said. "If Iraq is linked to al-Qaeda, is it not more logical to link the expropriation of Palestinian land and the persecution and oppression of Palestinians with Sept. 11?"

In an apparent reference to the US, Mahathir denounced those causing civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"If the innocent people who died in the attack on Afghanistan and those who have been dying from lack of food and medical care in Iraq are considered collaterals, are the 3,000 who died in New York and the 200 in Bali also just collaterals whose deaths are necessary for operations to succeed?" Mahathir asked.

"While the suicidal terrorists die with each attack, the great warriors who press buttons see nothing of the mangled bodies ... the blood and gore of the innocent people," he said. "And because they don't see, the button-pressing warriors and the people who command them go back to enjoy a hearty meal."

"Tomorrow, they make more sorties to carpet-bomb more children, women and old people."

He urged the Non-Aligned Movement to strive to ban war, and proposed that the military budgets of all nations be restricted to 1 percent of their GDP, as was Japan's after World War II.

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