Muslims should reject Bush: Mahathir

Former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad has appealed to Muslims in the United States to vote President George Bush out of office in the presidential election because he was the "cause of the tragedies" across the Muslim world.

In an open letter dated Oct 15 to the Muslim community there, he urged them to support Democractic candidate John Kerry to send a message to candidates that they must be fair to all communities in the United States.

"Vote Bush out of office. It is truly an ibadah (worship) that you perform," Mahathir, who retired last October after 22 years in power, said in the letter posted on the website

"Bush has shown that despite his protests, he is the cause of the tragedies in Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq.

"People, including children, women, sick and disabled people, have been and are being killed in these countries who otherwise would be alive today. Under the pretext of attacking terrorists, whole towns and villages with their populations are being destroyed by rockets and bombs."

Although there may not be much change to US policies towards Islam and Muslims under the Democrats, Dr Mahathir said they have a duty to ensure that "Bush will not be able to determine our fate for four more years.

"I would like to appeal to you, the Muslim citizens and voters of America, to be united and to cast your votes against Bush, in the name of justice, in the name of Islam."

Dr Mahathir has been sharply critical of the US-led invasion of Iraq and has made strident attacks on Bush's foreign policies while in office.