10th OIC Summit has been completely overshadowed by other world developments and the international furore over  Mahathir’s “inflammatory”  “anti-Jewish” speech

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling JayaFriday): 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. (

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: 

  • Firstly, by what the foreign media has reported  as his “blistering attack on what he described as  Jewish domination of the world”;  and
  • Secondly, his allegation that the Jews had ”invented and successfully promoted Socialism, Communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so they may enjoy equal rights with others”.

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:

  • China’s first manned space mission Shenzhou V capsule  and taikonaut Yang Liwei’s successful return to Inner Mongolia from a 21-hour flight from outer space;
  • The Silver Jubilee celebrations of Pope John Paul II as pontiff of 1.1 billion Catholics worldwide;
  • The  major US diplomatic victory in getting its Iraq resolution passed by the United Nations Security Council by a vote of 15 to 0, which has led Pakistan’s Daily Times to editorialise that  “OIC’s resolution calling for a primary role for the UN has fallen by the wayside even before the ink had dried on it”.
  • The gathering of leaders for the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Summit in Bangkok after the OIC Summit.

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