KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 4 — Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman offered an apology to the German government through its embassy here for a Malaysian who gave a Nazi salute during his convocation ceremony recently.
In a letter of apology addressed to the German Ambassador to Malaysia Nikolaus Grauf Lambsdorff, the Muar MP said he “stood in solidarity” with those who condemned the Nazi gesture and expressed his regret at the poor reflection on Malaysians brought about by the Universiti Malaysia Sabah graduate’s action.
“I have been an ardent supporter of the freedom of speech. It is something I openly encourage Malaysian youths to practise and exercise,” he wrote in the official letter.
“However, it is actions such as these that reflect poorly on our society.”
The minister added that the student’s justification that his action was meant to show support for the Palestinian cause was unwarranted, calling it a “false dichotomy” and indefensible.
The student had said shortly after the incident that he gave the Nazi salute as a protest against the “Jewish” treatment of the Palestinian people, an obvious fallacy that conflate an entire race and the Israeli government as one but a view widely held by conservative Malay-Muslims here.
“The comparison made by the student that in order to fight for the rights of one group by way of defending the injustice of another is a false dichotomy,” Syed Saddiq said.
Some six million Jews were exterminated by Nazi Germany during World War II, among the largest ethnic cleansing campaigns in human history.
The Holocaust also saw the Nazis exterminate other ethnic minority groups like the Romanis or “Gypsies”, Christians and also Muslims, who actually helped many Jews flee persecution during the fascist occupation of North Africa, a point Syed Saddiq stressed in his letter.
The minister said the act of glorifying a leader who committed was atrocities, genocide and ethnic cleansing is a serious matter, and that the act of doing so contradicted the Muslim student’s own faith, as Islam strictly prohibits violence against mankind.
“Glorifying a leader who committed war crimes, genocide and ethnic cleansing is no laughing matter,” said Syed Saddiq.
“Islam prohibits violence not only against mankind but against every living creature and is only recognised during times of self-defence. By supporting the holocaust this contradicts other causes which also affects the Muslim community,” the minister added.
Responding to the incident, the German Embassy issued a scathing condemnation of the student last week, saying it was shocked as to how anyone could support a regime responsible for mass killings.
“Considering the terrible suffering that was brought upon the world during World War II by the Nazi regime of Germany, the German Embassy unequivocally condemns any show of support for a regime responsible for Genocide,” the embassy posted on Twitter.
UMS authorities in criticising the student said they are currently investigating the matter.