Mahathir Muhammad said the international community's indignation was in stark contrast to their reaction when the Prophet Muhammad was called a ''terrorist''.

He said on Monday: "Are we not allowed to say that we are angry with the Jews? Are the Jews some kind of creature who cannot be condemned in any way?"

Mahathir, who is due to retire on 31 October, said he knew a lot of Jewish people and was not against them.

European critics 

"Are we not allowed to say that we are angry with the Jews? Are the Jews some kind of creature who cannot be condemned in any way?"

Mahathir Muhammad,
Malaysian PM
 

"I am against those Jews who kill Muslims and the Jews who support the killers of Muslims," he said.

And he added he did not care if the Europeans, who were among his major critics, did not like him.

"I have European friends. But when they do something wrong, I am going to tell them that it is wrong.

"You say that you are not under the influence of the Jews and yet when I criticise the Jews, the whole of the European Union wants to condemn me.

Muslim outrage

"But when somebody condemns the Muslims, calls my Prophet a terrorist and all that, did the European Union say anything? Which shows that they are under the thumb of the Jews."

US Christian fundamentalist preacher Jerry Falwell called the Prophet Muhammad a "terrorist" in a television interview in September last year, sparking outrage in the Muslim world.

More recently, a United States general has been under fire for casting the war on terrorism as a Christian struggle against Satan.

Lieutenant General William Boykin, recalled in a speech how a top Somali lieutenant, Usman Otto, boasted on CNN he would never be caught because Allah would protect him.

Double standards

"Well, you know what?" Boykin said. "I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol."

"When I criticise the Jews, the whole of the European Union wants to condemn me... But when somebody... calls my Prophet a terrorist and all that, did the European Union say anything? Which shows that they are under the thumb of the Jews"

Mahathir Muhammad,
Malaysian PM
 

Mahathir regularly points to such utterances as proof of double standards applied in western countries.

Asked on Monday why some Muslim leaders did not openly express support over his remarks about Jews, Mahathir said they were possibly afraid action would be taken against them.

"They are much weaker than we are. They may have more money but they are still dependent upon the Europeans.

Blackmail

"Because of that, they are reluctant to make their voices heard but privately of course they will support," he said.

At the weekend, Mahathir said a call by a US-based Jewish lobby group for an economic boycott against Malaysia over his remarks may hurt economically but the country would not give in to "blackmail".

The influential Simon Wiesenthal Center last week called on investors and tourists to avoid Malaysia after Mahathir branded Jews "arrogant" and accused them of controlling the world by proxy.