Malaysia to Maintain Ties with Hamas, Says PM Anwar Ibrahim
Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, has affirmed his country’s commitment to maintaining ties with Hamas and will not impose any punitive measures on the group, according to his recent statement in the Malaysian parliament.
Mr. Anwar emphasized the importance of unanimous support for the Palestinian cause among Malaysians. This declaration comes in response to a proposal by U.S. lawmakers to sanction foreign supporters of Hamas, a move that has raised concerns and discussions within the international community.
In his address, Mr. Anwar firmly rejected any potential threats or sanctions, considering them unilateral and invalid. He underscored that Malaysia, as a member of the United Nations, recognizes decisions made by the UN Security Council and stands by this commitment.
Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim nation, has a long history of advocating for the Palestinian cause. The country does not diplomatically recognize Israel and maintains that such recognition will only occur once a two-state solution is achieved—one for Israelis and one for Palestinians.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, frequently hosts conferences and gatherings related to Palestinian issues, underscoring the nation’s unwavering commitment to the cause.
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has been a longstanding advocate for the Palestinian people, dating back to his university days. Malaysia, like many parts of the world, has witnessed mass gatherings and prayer rallies in response to Israel’s retaliatory strikes on Gaza.
In some instances, support for Hamas has been displayed, even within the education sector. During Malaysia’s Palestine Solidarity Week in late October, a viral video depicted a group of teachers dressed as militants carrying toy rifles. This prompted Prime Minister Anwar to call for increased monitoring of activities during the week.
Notably, Mr. Anwar’s mentor-turned-political rival, Mahathir Mohamad, has also been vocal in supporting the Palestinian cause. He has criticized other nations for their silence in the face of what he calls “Israeli war crimes.”
In the current political climate in Malaysia, characterized by the rising influence of religious conservatism, Anwar cannot afford to be perceived as having weak views on this matter. He has been facing diminishing support from the Malay-Muslim community in his home country, according to a recent poll by the Malaysian think tank Ilham Centre.
In response to the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict, Prime Minister Anwar has adopted a firmer stance, rejecting Western pressure to condemn Hamas. He emphasized that Hamas had been democratically elected by the people of Gaza to govern the enclave.
During a pro-Palestinian rally, Mr. Anwar strongly condemned Israeli military actions in Gaza, describing them as “the height of barbarism in this world.”
Furthermore, Anwar called on media outlets not to label Hamas fighters as “militants.” He drew a parallel with the African National Congress (ANC), which fought to end apartheid in South Africa and was accused of terrorism by the West. Despite this, Malaysian authorities continued to support the ANC and its leader, Nelson Mandela.
In closing, Prime Minister Anwar emphasized the importance of understanding the concerns and sensitivities of the Malaysian people and recognizing the rights of Palestinians over their dispossessed land, wealth, and dignity. The ongoing conflict in Gaza has resulted in a significant loss of life and suffering, with over 10,300 people killed in Gaza, including more than 4,100 children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. The situation remains a matter of deep concern and international dialogue.