Weeks earlier, on October 16 a schoolteacher was beheaded outside his school in a Paris suburb after showing cartoons of Prophet Mohammed to his pupils during a lesson on freedom of expression.
Mahathir, who was the Prime Minister from 2018 until March this year, commenting on Thursday’s murder argued that Muslims would not approve of the killing but warned France should “not show disrespect for the values of others”.
He tweeted: “Macron is not showing that he is civilised. He is very primitive in blaming the religion of Islam and Muslims for the killing of the insulting school teacher.”
The statements led to widespread calls for Twitter to remove his posts, with some users describing them as an incitement to violence.
The social networking platform later removed the tweets for violating its rules banning the glorification of violence.
Mahathir was quickly denounced by foreign diplomats and politicians.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison slammed the remarks, calling them absurd and abhorrent. He said: “The only thing that should be said today is to completely condemn those attacks and the only response is to be utterly, utterly devastated.”
Most leaders around the world have condemned the Nice attack, which was reportedly carried out by a 21-year-old Tunisian migrant who had recently entered France from Italy.