Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday said Muslims have the right “to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past”. His comment was part of a blog, which was also posted on Twitter. It was later removed from the microblogging site for violating rules.

Mohamad’s remark came shortly after three people were killed in a knife attack at a church in France’s Nice city.

There has been unrest in the country after the beheading of a teacher near Paris earlier this month. The teacher had showed caricatures of Prophet Muhammad in class before the attack. Following this, French President Emmanuel Macron had vowed a crackdown on “Islamic extremism”, according to AFP.

Mohamad criticised the French government for blaming all Muslims for the actions of one person. “Since you have blamed all Muslims and the Muslims’ religion for what was done by one angry person, the Muslims have a right to punish the French,” he said. “The boycott cannot compensate the wrongs committed by the French all these years.”

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He added: “Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past. But by and large the Muslims have not applied the “eye for an eye” law. Muslims don’t.” Mohamad said that France should teach its people how to respect the sentiments of others.

Mohamad clarified that he did not condone the teacher’s beheading. “The killing is not an act that as a Muslim I would approve,” he said. “But while I believe in the freedom of expression, I do not think it includes insulting other people. You cannot go up to a man and curse him simply because you believe in freedom of speech.”

The former Malaysian prime minister also criticised Macron’s response to the incident. “Macron is not showing that he is civilised,” Mohamad said. “He is very primitive in blaming the religion of Islam and Muslims for the killing of the insulting school teacher. It is not in keeping with the teachings of Islam.”

Mohamad added that “angry people” resort to violence, irrespective of their religion. “The French in the course of their history killed millions of people,” he said. “Many were Muslims.”

Last week, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had also accused Macron of “attacking Islam” and creating polarisation in society. “This is a time when Pres [President] Macron could have put healing touch and denied space to extremists rather than creating further polarisation and marginalisation that inevitably leads to radicalisation,” he had said.

‘France will not give in to terror’: Macron

The French president on Thursday called for unity in fighting against violence and said that the country would not give in to terrorism, CNN reported.

“Very clearly France is under attack,” Macron said after a visit to Nice. He added that the country must not give into the “spirit of division,” the French President added.

The knife attack in Nice is the third such attack in the country since a trial began in the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack. In September, at least two people were injured in a knife attack near the former office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

Twelve people, including eight employees of the magazine, were killed on January 7, 2015, when brothers Said and Cherie Kouachi stormed Charlie Hebdo’s Paris headquarters. Al-Qaeda’s branch in the Arabian Peninsula had claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying it was revenge for the cartoons the magazine had published of Prophet Mohammed.