During his trip to New York City in America, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was invited to speak at Columbia University's World Leaders' Forum.
However, the university came under fire for the invitation, with critics casting the spotlight on the anti-Semitic comments Mahathir has made in the past.
Mahathir's checkered record
According to the New York Post, Mahathir is "infamous for calling Jewish people 'hook-nosed' and claiming 'Jews rule the world by proxy'."
The head of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, said that the invitation was "nothing short of astounding".
Columbia's president Lee Bollinger defended the invitation and said that while it is neither a validation or endorsement of Mahathir's views, the "open engagement" was important in understanding and confronting "the world as it is."
Mahathir speaks his mind
But instead of recanting his views, Mahathir instead chose to double down.
On Sep. 26 (Singapore time), Mahathir tweeted that he is "exercising his right to free speech" when speaking about the Jewish people.
He also added that others have said "nasty things" about him and Malaysia.
I am exercising my right to free speech. Why is it that I can’t say something against the Jews when a lot of people say nasty things about me and about Malaysia and I didn’t protest? I didn’t demonstrate. pic.twitter.com/HImpbus0eI— Dr Mahathir Mohamad (@chedetofficial) September 25, 2019
The tweet was accompanied by photos that seem to show members of the audience asking Mahathir questions.
Mahathir added in another tweet that people had to be willing to listen to views "not in our favour" because of freedom of speech.
We have to be willing to listen to views which are not in our favour because of free speech. Free speech is about free speech.— Dr Mahathir Mohamad (@chedetofficial) September 25, 2019
We have to be willing to listen to views which are not in our favour because of free speech. Free speech is about free speech. pic.twitter.com/U5l4tIvRxa
Top image from Mahathir Mohamad's Twitter page.