Muslim-majority Malaysia will no longer host any events that include Israel on the guest list, foreign minister Saifuddin Abdullah said Wednesday.
Abdullah made the public announcement as he reiterated that swimmers from the Jewish state were barred from a forthcoming swimming competition which will serve as a qualifying event for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
Despite a plea from the International Paralympic Committee to find a solution to the row, Abdullah doubled down on Malaysia’s opposition to the Jewish state.
The cabinet has decided that “Malaysia will not host any event which has Israel participation or representation,” he said. “This is a decision by the government to demonstrate our tough stance over the issue of Israel.”
He made the comments after meeting Muslim groups, who praised the ban on the swimmers and urged the government to stick to its policy of not allowing in Israeli passport holders.
Last week Malaysia Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said Kuala Lumpur would deny visas to Israeli para swimmers seeking to attend the meet on the grounds that Malaysia has no diplomatic relations with Israel.
“We maintain our stand on the prohibition. If they do come, it is a violation,” he was quoted as saying by the official Bergama news agency. “If they (the International Paralympic Committee) want to withdraw Malaysia’s right to host the championship, they can do so.”
The IPC said in a statement that it was “disappointed” with Dr. Mahathir’s comments, although it would aim to “find a solution” to the issue.
Dr. Mahathir, now 93 and in his second stint as premier, has in the past attracted criticism for his verbal attacks on Jews, including calling them “hook-nosed.”
He has also boasted that he is “glad to be labelled anti-Semitic,” and drawn comparisons between the Jews and the Nazis.
“Today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them,” he said in 2013.
In 2010, he declared, “Jews had always been a problem in European countries. They had been confined in ghettos and periodically massacred. But they still remained and still thrived and held whole governments to ransom.”
AFP contributed to this report
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