Jewish leaders have reacted angrily after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte compared his anti-drug campaign to the Holocaust.
The comment – wrongly citing numbers killed by the Nazis – was inhumane and deeply offensive, they said.
Mr Duterte said he would kill as many addicts as Hitler did Jews in his crackdown on users and dealers. “Hitler massacred three million Jews… there’s three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them,” he said.
“What President Duterte said is not only profoundly inhumane, but it demonstrates an appalling disrespect for human life that is truly heart-breaking for the democratically elected leader of a great country,” said World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder as he demanded an apology.
US-based Jewish group the Anti-Defamation League said the comments were “inappropriate and deeply offensive”, with communications director Todd Gutnick saying it was “baffling why any leader would want to model himself after such a monster”.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, of the US-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, said Mr Duterte owed “[Holocaust] victims an apology for his disgusting rhetoric”.
Cousin Of Hitler
Mr Duterte, who has overseen a bloody crackdown on drug users and dealers since taking office in June which has left more than 3,000 people dead, made the comments during a rambling speech in Davao, the city where as mayor he implemented a tough anti-crime policy and was accused of sanctioning death squads to kill criminals. He told reporters he had been “portrayed to be some cousin of Hitler” as he lashed out critics who he said were accusing him of genocide. “Hitler massacred three million Jews, now, there is three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them,” he said.
Both figures quoted by Mr Duterte are incorrect. Hitler actually massacred six million Jews, as well as other minorities, during the Holocaust, while the most recent figures in the Philippines – released earlier in the week – suggests the number of drug users in the country is closer to 1.8 million, just 1.8% of the overall population, according to local news website Rappler.
Mr Duterte’s rambling speech continued: “At least if Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have…” – at which point he is reported to have pointed to himself.
Mr Duterte also used the speech to once again accuse the West of hypocrisy over its criticism of his brutal crackdown. “You US, EU. You can call me anything. But I was never into… hypocrisy like you,” he said. “There are migrants escaping from the Middle East. You allow them to rot and then you’re worried about the death of about 1,000, 2,000, 3,000?”