PUTRAJAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad today brushed off criticism of his jibe at Jews when addressing the Cambridge Union by saying it was just his opinion.
The prime minister also said he was merely practising free speech.
“In Europe, they have double standards.
“When they like (what is said) it is free speech, when they don’t like, it is wrong,” he told reporters at a Hari Raya gathering hosted by the Prime Minister’s Department here.
Mahathir, a frequent critic of Israel’s policies, had on Sunday, at the Cambridge Union Society hall in England, said his Jewish friends were “not like the other Jews”.
He said this when asked why he previously said Jewish people were “inclined towards money”.
“I have some Jewish friends, very good friends. They are not like the other Jews, that’s why they are my friends,” he was quoted as saying, drawing laughter from the audience.
The remarks were recorded and later posted on Twitter by the Union of Jewish Students (UJS), which condemned the 93-year-old’s comments.
This led to prominent Turkish author Mustafa Akyol describing Mahathir’s remarks as disrespectful.
“Imagine some non-Muslim politician saying that. We Muslims would find it quite disrespectful. So, Malaysian PM Mahathir is similarly disrespectful here,” Mustafa tweeted on Tuesday.