A Jan. 21 item in the Jakarta Globe from Indonesia reported a speech by Mahathir Mohamad, the former prime minister of Malaysia, at a conference in support of Al-Quds (Jerusalem).

Mahathir was quoted stating that the lack of progress by the Obama administration in ending the war in Afghanistan, or in closing the terrorist detention centre at Guantanamo, was due to the “forces in the United States which prevent the president from doing some things. One of the forces is the Jewish lobby.”

He said Jews “had always been a problem in European countries. They had to be confined to ghettos and periodically massacred. But still they remained, they thrived and they held whole governments to ransom.”

Moreover, he continued, “Even after their massacre by the Nazis of Germany, they survived to continue to be a source of even greater problems for the world.”

These despicable words are not from the tongue of any common run-of-the-mill bigot. Mahathir was the elected head of government from 1981 to 2003 of one the more economically successful Muslim-majority countries.

The former prime minister’s remarks were not some carelessly expressed random thoughts. In October 2003, Mahathir was the chairman of the Tenth Islamic Summit Conference as Malaysia hosted the more than 50-member Organization of Islamic Countries. His opening address to the assembled Muslim leaders was punctuated with bigoted references to Jews and Israel.

Mahathir said, for instance, “The Europeans killed six million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.” He received, the press reported, a standing ovation from Muslim leaders and none disowned his anti-Semitic views.

Such hate-filled public statements against Jews and Israel by Mahathir, or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, or the leaders of Hamas, Hezbollah, Taliban, al-Qaida and member states of the Arab League, are indicative of how deep-seated and widespread is anti-Semitism across the Muslim world.

Since political-religious leaders promote this bigotry, the space for any Muslim opposition — and not merely against Jews — is restricted with the threat of mob violence ever present against those who dare denounce such bigotry.

Muslim anti-Semitism represents to a large extent the “Arabization” of Islam, particularly the majority Sunni Islam, in modern times. In other words, non-Arab Muslims — they constitute four-fifths of the world’s Muslim population — willingly defer in understanding and practising their faith tradition to the cultural and political prejudices of Arabs, especially to Wahhabi sectarianism of the Saudis. Mahathir’s recent anti-Semitic remarks were made about the same time Geert Wilders was taken to court in Holland for his anti-Islamic views.

While Muslims demand Wilders be punished for anti-Muslim bigotry, their silence — especially those Muslims enjoying the benefits of freedom and democracy in the West — over Mahathir’s anti-Semitism shows how greatly responsible they are in desecrating Islam by the filth of their own bigotry.

It is quite proper to note the rise in post-Holocaust anti-Semitism is directly related to the widespread bigotry against Jews and Israel among Muslims. It is also a measure of why the Muslim world’s political culture is so terribly retarded relative to that of the non-Muslim world.

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