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Iran tensions

Mahathir says Muslims should unite after Soleimani killing

Malaysian prime minister calls US attack on Iranian commander 'immoral'

Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says on Tuesday that Muslim countries should unite to protect themselves against external threats.

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) -- Muslim countries should unite to protect themselves against external threats, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Tuesday after describing the U.S. killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani as immoral.

The world's oldest premier, who has in recent months stoked diplomatic tensions by speaking out on issues concerning the Muslim world, also said the U.S. drone attack on Soleimani was against international laws.

Soleimani's killing in Baghdad last Friday has sparked fears of a broader conflict in the Middle East. Mahathir, 94, said it could also lead to an escalation in "what is called terrorism."

"The time is right for Muslim countries to come together," Mahathir told reporters.

"We are no longer safe now. If anybody insults or says something that somebody doesn't like, it is all right for that person from another country to send a drone and perhaps have a shot at me."

About 50 people including burqa-wearing women gathered outside the Iranian embassy in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, to shout "Down, Down USA."

Mahathir has tried to maintain good relations with Iran despite U.S. sanctions on the Middle Eastern country. An estimated 10,000 Iranians live in Malaysia.

Last month, Mahathir hosted Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at a conference of Muslim leaders in Malaysia where they discussed boosting business, trading in each other's currencies and keeping up with non-Muslim countries.

Mahathir's recent comments on the treatment of Muslims in India and his criticism of the Saudi Arabia-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation have soured Malaysia's relations with both New Delhi and Riyadh.

"I speak the truth," Mahathir said. "You do something that is not right, I think I have the right to speak out."

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