PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia stands firm on its principle against Israel, which it describes as a criminal state.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said this when commenting on the International Paralympic Committee (IPC)'s decision to strip Malaysia of its right to host the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships after the country banned Israeli athletes from participating.
When highlighting the actions of Israel which has broken many international laws, he said Malaysia stood firm on its views of that country.
"We have the right to voice our feeling and to have our own policies.
"I don't understand why one must follow the Israel... We don't," he told reporters after meeting with federal statutory bodies here today.
Dr Mahathir said this when he was asked about IPC's decision on Sunday to strip Malaysia of its right to host the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships.
The championships is a qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics and was initially scheduled to be held in Kuching, Sarawak between July 29 and Aug 4.
Malaysia, a majority-Muslim country that does not maintain diplomatic relations with Israel, announced this month that it would bar Israelis from any event held in the Southeast Asia nation.
Israel responded by condemning the ban and described it as “shameful”. It said the decision was inspired by Dr Mahathir's "rabid anti-Semitism".
Dr Mahathir, 93, has for decades been accused by segments of the international community of being anti-Semitic for his attacks against Jews.
In this respect, Dr Mahathir said he has no issue with IPC's decision to strip Malaysia's rights from hosting the championships.
"If we cannot host the paralympic, we can host other games," said the prime minister.
On his decision to allow the Israel cricket team to come to Malaysia in 1997 during his first tenure as prime minister, Dr Mahathir said he had reasons for doing so back then.
"I allowed Israeli school children to come to Malaysia (back then). We did so to show them that Muslims are not terrorists.
"We are normal people. We talk to people. We behave well. We don't do anything wrong to them.
"But, when children throw stone at them (Zionist regime in Israel), they are shot with live bullets," said Dr Mahathir.
In this regard, he questioned why no one complained when the United States government banned people from five Muslim nations from entering that country.
“There were also other European nations that barred certain people from certain countries too.
"This is a normal thing. We stand by our principle," he said. Additional reporting by Mohd Husni Mohd Noor and Zanariah Abd Mutalib