Skip to comments.Malay PM: No rip by W (Denies anti-Semitism chiding)
Posted on 10/22/2003 9:04:48 AM PDT by knighthawk
WASHINGTON - The Malaysian prime minister disputed yesterday that President Bush scolded him for anti-Semitic remarks and added that he is also worried about Christian fundamentalists in the Bush administration.
Outgoing Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad conceded in a news conference that Bush "did pull me aside" at the Pacific rim conference in Bangkok, but only "to explain to me why he made such a strong statement" condemning Mahathir's speech to Islamic leaders.
"Certainly, he did not rebuke me. After that, we were walking practically hand in hand. How do you say a person is rebuking another person if our relations are that good?" Mahathir said.
Bush had been publicly silent about Mahathir's comment that "Jews rule the world by proxy," but aides said the President told the prime minister Monday that his comments "stand squarely against what I believe."
The White House insisted yesterday that Bush made his point to Mahathir. "The President has been clear that he felt the prime minister's comments were divisive and wrong," said Bush spokesman Trent Duffy.
An administration official said Bush didn't flinch from talking to Mahathir, but didn't want to rip into a leader whom he needs in the war on terror.
"He said what he had to say, and there's a political reality: We need the guy to help us with [Malaysian] rebels," the official said.
Mahathir also picked a new fight. Pointing to comments by Army Lt. Gen. William Boykin, Mahathir said Christian fundamentalists holding power in the U.S. government is "a development we worry about because, like the so-called Muslim extremists, Christian fundamentalists tend to have the extreme views."
An evangelical Christian, Boykin has said in speeches that Muslims pray to "an idol," while Christians worship "a real God."
Muslim Public Affairs Council Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati called for Boykin's resignation. "As Bush continues to condemn Malaysia, Muslims around the world will be sure to notice his silence on Boykin," he said.
A Pentagon inspector general is investigating Boykin's comments in a probe that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Boykin, deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, asked for himself. "That's a perfectly responsible thing for him to do," Rumsfeld said.
With Thomas M. DeFrank