KUALA LUMPUR: Muslim countries should unite to protect themselves against external threats, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Tuesday (Jan 7) after describing the US killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani as immoral.
The world's oldest premier, who has in recent months stoked diplomatic tensions by speaking out on issues concerning the Muslim world, also said the US drone attack on Soleimani was against international laws.
Soleimani's killing in Baghdad last Friday has sparked fears of a broader conflict in the Middle East. Mahathir, 94, said it could also lead to an escalation in "what is called terrorism".
READ: Huge crowds in Iran mourn general killed by US drone
"The time is right for Muslim countries to come together," Mahathir told reporters.
"We are no longer safe now. If anybody insults or says something that somebody doesn't like, it is all right for that person from another country to send a drone and perhaps have a shot at me."
Comparing the killing of Soleimani to the 2018 murder of Saudi dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Mahathir said both happened across boundaries.
"This is also another act where one country decides on its own to kill the leaders of another country.
“Both are guilty of immoral acts, it is against the law, ” he said, according to the Star.
About 50 people gathered outside the Iranian embassy in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, to shout "Down, Down USA".
Mahathir has tried to maintain good relations with Iran despite US sanctions on the Middle Eastern country. An estimated 10,000 Iranians live in Malaysia.
Last month, Mahathir hosted Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at a conference of Muslim leaders in Malaysia where they discussed boosting business, trading in each other's currencies and keeping up with non-Muslim countries.
Mahathir's recent comments on the treatment of Muslims in India and his criticism of the Saudi Arabia-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation have soured Malaysia's relations with both New Delhi and Riyadh.
"I speak the truth," Mahathir said. "You do something that is not right, I think I have the right to speak out."