Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has rejected Western pressure to condemn Hamas, saying his government will continue to maintain relations with the armed group.
Anwar said that Western officials have repeatedly asked Malaysia to condemn Hamas in meetings but his government “does not agree” with their attitude.
Keep readinglist of 4 items
“I said that we, as a policy, have a relationship with Hamas from before, and this will continue,” Anwar said on Monday in remarks to parliament.
“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.”
Western governments have condemned Hamas and called on other countries to stand with Israel after Hamas earlier this month carried out the deadliest attack on the country in decades.
More than 1,400 people, most of them civilians, were killed when Hamas fighters attacked southern Israel by air, land and sea on October 7, according to Israeli officials.
Israel’s subsequent bombardment of Gaza has killed at least 2,750 people and wounded nearly 10,000 others, according to Palestinian officials. Another 1,000 people are believed to be trapped under rubble in the enclave.
Malaysia, where about 60 percent of the population is Muslim, is a vocal supporter of Palestinian rights and does not have diplomatic ties with Israel.
Last week, 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.
“As a result of this injustice, hundreds of innocent lives were sacrificed. Malaysia remains in solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people.”
The Malaysian leader’s comments came as his country’s foreign ministry issued a statement urging the United Nations Security Council to call for a ceasefire.
“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 ministry said.
On Friday, about 1,000 Muslims rallied in Kuala Lumpur to express solidarity with Palestinians, chanting “Free Palestine” and “Crush the Zionists” as they burned effigies draped with Israeli flags.
Hamas leaders have in the past visited Malaysia and met with 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 the group.