10th OIC Summit has been completely overshadowed by other world developments and the international furore over Mahathir’s “inflammatory” “anti-Jewish” speech
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Friday): The Deputy Information Minister, Datuk Zainuddin Maidin yesterday issued a special statement accusing the United States media of “boycotting” news on the 10th Organisation Islamic Conference (OIC) Summit. He said although the meeting at the officers' and OIC foreign ministers' levels had been going on for two days, and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad had delivered a crucial speech at the economic forum of the conference, there was not even a line mentioned by the newspaper, International Herald Tribune. (http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v3/printable.php?id=24090)
The first reaction of Malaysians to Zainudin’s statement is that the Deputy Information Minister was accusing the United States media of the very sin which the Malaysian government and media controllers had been most guilty of themselves in “blacking out” news and views of the opposition, critical NGOs and dissent in the Malaysian media.
But Zainudin spoke too soon, as shortly after his statement, foreign including US media were full of reports and reactions to Mahathir’s speech at the opening of the OIC Summit – and it is no exaggeration to say that the Putrajaya OIC Summit had been completely overshadowed not only by other world developments but also the international furore over Mahathir’s “anti-Jewish” speech.
The European Union (EU) has expressed deep condemnation of Mahathir’s "Jews rule this world" speech and his provocative call on the 1.3 billion Muslims to unite against “a few million Jews”.
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Mahathir’s speech as “very strongly anti-Semitic” and “runs strongly counter to the principles of tolerance and dialogue between the West and the Islamic world". He said his country, which currently holds the EU presidency, was proposing to include the condemnation in the conclusions of a two-day EU summit which ends today.
In Berlin, the Malaysian charge d'affaires had been summoned by the German foreign ministry to receive a protest against and condemnation of Mahathir’s "absolutely unacceptable" “anti-Jewish” statements. The United States and Australia have also joined in the international condemnation of Mahathir’s “offensive and inflammatory” speech.
Mahathir has forgotten his own injunction in another part of his OIC Summit opening speech, where he reminded the Muslim ummah “not to antagonize everyone” by irresponsible and unIslamic acts and the importance to “win their hearts and minds”.
I was following the live telecast of Mahathir’s speech at the opening of the OIC Summit yesterday, and I was startled and shocked by the tenor of his speech for two reasons:
Mahathir invited the ferocious international reaction with the former, but it is the latter which is most insidious and subversive of the cause of democracy and human rights for the 1.3 billion Muslims as well as the peoples of the developing world.
This was because in the latter, Mahathir made a veiled but unmistakable attack on democracy and human rights as part of a long-standing Jewish conspiracy, which is not only a great disservice to the 2003 Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi, the first Muslim woman and Iranian receipient honoured by the Norwegian Nobel Committee only last Friday, but also to the legion of advocates of democracy and human rights, whether in Malaysia, the Islamic world or outside
This is the first time that any leader from Malaysia or the OIC countries has alleged that democracy and human rights are the invention and conspiracy of the Jewish lobby to advance the Zionist cause, which would imply that the award of the Nobel Peace Prize for the advancement of the cause of peace, democracy and human rights or any commitment to these ideals have dubious origins and promote ignoble ends.
Was Mahathir seeking, in his highly provocative speech, to indirectly express his sympathy and support for Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah Abdul Aziz, the de facto ruler, following the initial stirrings for democracy and human rights in Saudi Arabia after the unprecedented protest by hundreds of Saudis in the streets of capital Riyadh three days ago, demanding for greater political reforms and human rights?
The following sentiment by Iranian writer Amir Taheri in his latest article on the OIC Summit in Putrajaya deserves serious thought not only by the OIC Summiteers and Muslims but non-Muslims as well:
“The division of the world between Islamic and non-Islamic tells us nothing. The real division is between tyrannies and democracies. North Korea is not a Muslim nation, but its government is in the same league as that of Libya, a 100 percent Muslim land. Turkey, a 99 percent Muslim country, is certainly more democratic than the predominantly Catholic Cuba or Buddhist Vietnam.
“The truth is that many of those who will be gathering in Kuala Lumpur next week are tyrants hiding their ugly faces behind an Islamic mask. Knowing that they cannot justify their often illegitimate hold on power in political terms, they try to do so with reference to religion.”
If not for Mahathir’s highly offensive and provocative opening speech, the 10th OIC Summit might not have been able to compete with the many other world developments to command international media attention – events such as:
But is this the way for Malaysia or even the OIC to win friends and influence people in the battle for the world’s hearts and minds for justice and peace with honour for all?
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman