Minister Mahathir's OIC Speech
R. Daly, Former Editor and Publisher Georgetown Gazette
Throughout the Western World online news
reports are filled with condemnations of the recent speech given
by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, during the opening of the Tenth
Session of the Islamic Summit Conference of the Organization of Islamic
Conference (OIC) in Putrajaya, Malaysia on October 16, 2003.
Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad's speech contains
58 paragraphs and 4,269 words. His words have been taken completely out
of context. Because he is Muslim and because he has a reputation of
speaking harshly, his speech has been unfairly condemned.
Here are Mahathir's offending words from
paragraph 39: “We are actually very strong. 1.3 billion people
cannot be simply wiped out. The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of
12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get
others to fight and die for them.”
Leading up to his controversial words Mahathir pointed out that Muslim
countries have many problems. Over the last 1400 years the Muslim
community has divided, and divided again and again. So much so that
they “... now have a thousand different religions which are often
so much at odds with one another that they often fight and kill each
other" (Paragraph 10). He urged the governments of all Muslim countries
to close ranks and have a common stand if not on all issues, at least
on some major ones, such as on Palestine (Paragraph 9).
Speaking of the many sects of Islam,
Mahathir declares, "We fail to notice that our detractors and enemies
do not care whether we are true Muslims or not. To them we are all
Muslims, followers of a religion and a Prophet whom they declare
promotes terrorism, and we are all their sworn enemies. They will
attack and kill us, invade our lands, bring down our Governments
whether we are Sunnis or Syiahs, Alawait or Druze or whatever. And we
aid and abet them by attacking and weakening each other, and sometimes
by doing their bidding, acting as their proxies to attack fellow
Muslims. We try to bring down our Governments through violence,
succeeding to weaken and impoverish our countries” (Paragraph
Mahathir goes on to discuss some of the
problems that have brought Islamic countries so much despair. He says,
“And times have changed. Whether we like it or not we have to
change, not by changing our religion but by applying its teachings in
the context of a world that is radically different from that of the
first century of the Hijrah. Islam is not wrong but the interpretations
by our scholars, who are not prophets even though they may be very
learned can be wrong. We have a need to go back to the fundamental
teachings of Islam to find out whether we are indeed believing in and
practicing the Islam that the Prophet preached. It cannot be that we
are all practicing the correct and true Islam when our beliefs are so
different from one another" (Paragraph 26).
It is at this point that Mahathir begins
to anger his detractors when he says, “There is a feeling of
hopelessness among the Muslim countries and their people. They feel
that they can do nothing right. They believe that things can only get
worse. The Muslims will forever be oppressed and dominated by the
Europeans and the Jews. They will forever be poor, backward and weak.
Some believe, as I have said, this is the Will of Allah, that the
proper state of the Muslims is to be poor and oppressed in this world"
(Paragraph 32). He then mentions the failure of the suicide bombers
when he says, “But is it true that we should do and can do
nothing for ourselves? Is it true that 1.3 billion people can exert no
power to save themselves from the humiliation and oppression inflicted
upon them by a much smaller enemy? Can they only lash back blindly in
anger? Is there no other way than to ask our young people to blow
themselves up and kill people and invite the massacre of more of our
own people?” (Paragraph 33)
Rather than being anti-Semitic, Mahathir
makes the point that the Jews have been able to reach their high
position in the world by using their brains and he urges the Islamic
countries that it is time to think, to use their brains. He says,
“If we use the faculty to think that Allah has given us then we
should know that we are acting irrationally. We fight without any
objective, without any goal other than to hurt the enemy because they
hurt us. Naively we expect them to surrender. We sacrifice lives
unnecessarily, achieving nothing other than to attract more massive
retaliation and humiliation” (Paragraph 37). He continues this
train of thought by saying, “It is surely time that we pause to
think. But will this be wasting time? For well over half a century we
have fought over Palestine. What have we achieved? Nothing. We are
worse off than before. If we had paused to think then we could have
devised a plan, a strategy that can win us final victory. Pausing and
thinking calmly is not a waste of time. We have a need to make a
strategic retreat and to calmly assess our situation” (Paragraph
He clarifies what should be the Islamic
position by saying, “I have already mentioned our numbers and our
oil wealth. In today's world we wield a lot of political, economic and
financial clout, enough to make up for our weakness in military
terms” (Paragraph 41).
“We also know that not all
non-Muslims are against us. Some are well disposed towards us. Some
even see our enemies as their enemies. Even among the Jews there are
many who do not approve of what the Israelis are doing”
He sums up the needs of Islamic peoples by
saying, “We must not antagonize everyone. We must win their
hearts and minds. We must win them to our side not by begging for help
from them but by the honourable way that we struggle to help ourselves.
We must not strengthen the enemy by pushing everyone into their camps
through irresponsible and unIslamic acts. Remember Salah El Din and the
way he fought against the so called Crusaders, King Richard of England
in particular. Remember the considerateness of the Prophet to the
enemies of Islam. We must do the same. It is winning the struggle that
is important, not angry retaliation, not revenge” (Paragraph 43).
About Palestine he says, “Over the
past 50 years of fighting in Palestine we have not achieved any result.
We have in fact worsened our situation” (Paragraph 50). And, most
importantly, he clarifies his words from paragraph 39, which have so
angered the media, when he says, “The enemy will probably welcome
these proposals and we will conclude that the promoters are working for
the enemy. But think. We are up against a people who think. They
survived 2000 years of pogroms not by hitting back, but by thinking.
They 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. With these they have now
gained control of the most powerful countries and they, this tiny
community, have become a world power. We cannot fight them through
brawn alone. We must use our brains also” (Paragraph 51).
For whatever reason it has become almost
impossible to talk about Israel without being labeled anti-Semitic.
Many people are currently having great difficulties accepting the
maneuvers of the U.S. Government as they attempt to police the world,
but to be anti-American carries none of the connotations attributed to
being anti-Semitic. Somehow, to be against anything the Israelis are
doing, has taken on religious meanings.
The reality is that the people of Israel
are locked in a religious war with their Arab neighbors whom they (and
the western media) label terrorists. The Israelis are cast as the good
guys in the white hats. Both sides are wrong. Both sides have made
mistakes. Rather than being anti-Semitic, Mahathir is being realistic.
Rather than casting his entire speech aside for one paragraph, the
world and the media should be sitting up and taking notice. Mahathir
received a standing ovation from the leaders of the 57 Muslim nations
gathered for this important conference. For Israel and the western
world to ignore this important speech is a step in the wrong direction
if the goal is to bring about a lasting peace in the Middle East.
Below are links to articles about Dr.
This is the link to the complete text of Dr. Mahathir's speech:
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