former prime minister of Malaysia, Mahatir Mohammad
KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) — Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad on Monday called for a global boycott of the US dollar and US-made products, including Coca-Cola, in protest over Washington's backing of Israel.
Mahathir, who during his two decades in power was a leading voice in the Muslim world, said people had to take action against the United States over its support for Israel, which is conducting a military offensive in Gaza.
"If you stop accepting US currency, the US can't trade and can't make any money, it will become very poor and it will have to stop the production of more and more weapons in order to kill people," he told a press conference.
"We should not be buying all these weapons from the US, we can buy from the Russians if we must have aeroplanes and things like that," he added.
"People must act... they won't die if they don't drink Coca-Cola."
Mahathir criticised the US for blocking a UN resolution calling for an end to the action by Israel, which has launched an air and ground offensive that has left at least 510 Palestinians dead, many of them civilians.
The fiery former prime minister, who stepped down in 2003, said he did not expect a new US approach under Barack Obama, who is due to be sworn in as president on January 20.
"I don't think there will be much change with regards to the policy of Israel. As you know, Obama went to Israel and asked for their support because a lot of voters in America are Jews," he said.
"I can't think of anybody being as bad as (President George W.) Bush, it is the best of the bad choices," he said of Obama.
Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi Monday called on the United Nations to convene an emergency session on Israel's offensive in Gaza, saying the UN had a "moral duty" to end the violence.