Named among ‘Top 20 dangerous extremists’, Dr Mahathir says just criticising West enough to earn label

Pejuang chairman Tun Mahathir Mohamad speaks to the media during a press conference at Perdana Leadership Foundation in Putrajaya January 7, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Pejuang chairman Tun Mahathir Mohamad speaks to the media during a press conference at Perdana Leadership Foundation in Putrajaya January 7, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 11 — Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad rejected today his inclusion in a US-based group’s list of the world’s most dangerous extremists, noting he was listed even when no act of violence was directly attributable to him.

In a blog post on the Counter Extremism Project’s (CEP) list of “The Top 20 Most Dangerous Extremists Around the World”, Dr Mahathir contrasted this to the war crimes allegedly perpetrated by former US president George Bush and former British prime minister Tony Blair in the war on Iraq.

“It seems that I am vilified for my thoughts while others get away with acts of terror and violence resulting in death and destruction of the weak and the oppressed,” he said.

Noting the concession that he was not directly responsible for any act of violence of terrorism, Dr Mahathir said his appearance on the list suggested that a person was considered a dangerous extremists simply for holding anti-West views.

He also sought to dismiss his portrayal as anti-Semitic as justified, claiming he earned this simply by he has only “mildly” criticised the Jews.

Dr Mahathir also questioned why outgoing US President Donald Trump was not on the list after the latter incited an attempted insurrection that involved a violent attack on the US Capitol, the seat of the American legislature.

In the list released earlier this month, the CEP described Dr Mahathir as anti-Semitic, a critic of the West, and highlighted his remarks about the October 2020 terrorist attack in France.

However, it conceded that Dr Mahathir was not “directly responsible for specific acts of violence” and justified his inclusion for “his controversial opinions have led to international condemnation as it was alleged Mahathir supported extremist violence against the West.”

After the terrorist attack in France, Dr Mahathir posted an opinion piece that contained a controversial paragraph that was singled out for criticism as it appeared to justify the violence.

The CEP was founded in 2014 by former US government officials and described its mission as “fighting global extremism” with a particular focus on disrupting the IS terrorist group.

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