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Malaysia rejects Western pressure to condemn Hamas

Malaysia has urged the United Nations Security Council to call for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.

– Radiance News Service

October 17, 2023: Malaysia has turned down Western demands to condemn Hamas and vowed to continue to maintain relations with the Palestinian group.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim told Parliament on Monday that Western officials have repeatedly asked Malaysia to condemn Hamas, but his government “does not agree” with their attitude, media reports said.

“I said that we, as a policy, have a relationship with Hamas from before, and this will continue,” Mr Anwar told lawmakers.

“As such, we don’t agree with their pressuring attitude, as Hamas, too, won in Gaza freely through elections, and Gazans chose them to lead,” the Malaysian leader said.

Western governments have condemned Hamas and called on other countries to stand with Israel after the group earlier this month carried out the deadliest attack on the Zionist entity in decades.

Malaysia, where about 60 per cent of the population is Muslim, is a vocal supporter of Palestinian rights and does not have diplomatic ties with Israel.

Mr Anwar’s remarks followed a bomb threat on Saturday at a popular shopping mall in the southern Malaysian city Johor Bahru. The Mid Valley Southkey mall was evacuated after the bomb scare, Malaysian media reported.

The scene outside the Mid Valley Southkey mall in Johor Bahru after it was evacuated following a bomb threat

The mall’s management had received a phone call at around 6pm from a foreigner who threatened to put a bomb in the mall. The caller said he wanted Malaysia to stop supporting the Palestinians in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, a senior police official told the local media.

He said some 9,000 people were evacuated from the mall, which is usually packed on the weekends. Opened in 2019, the sprawling mall is frequented by Singaporeans, especially during weekends and school holidays.

Last week, Mr Anwar criticised the international community for what he said was their one-sided stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict.

“The international community continues to take one-sided actions regarding all forms of cruelty and oppression to the Palestinian people. The confiscation of land and property belonging to the Palestinian people is done relentlessly by the Zionists,” he said on X, formerly Twitter.

“As a result of this injustice, hundreds of innocent lives were sacrificed. Malaysia remains in solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people.”

Malaysia has urged the United Nations Security Council to call for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. “There should be no disproportionate treatment and flagrant hypocrisy in dealing with any regime that practices apartheid and blatantly violates human rights and international law,” the government said.

Last Friday, about 1,000 Muslims rallied in Kuala Lumpur to express solidarity with the Palestinians, chanting “Free Palestine” and “Crush the Zionists” as they burned effigies draped with Israeli flags, media reports said.

Malaysia has long been a supporter of the Palestinian cause. Hamas leaders have in the past visited Malaysia and met its leaders.

In 2013, former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak defied Israel’s blockade on Gaza and crossed into the enclave following an invitation from Hamas.

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