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Tuesday, 1 October, 2002, 07:17 GMT 08:17 UK
Malaysia upset at new US security
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad (left) and his deputy, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
Badawi (right) is the prime minister's named successor
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has accused the US of "anti-Muslim hysteria" after it was revealed his deputy had to remove his shoes during a US airport check.

Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had to take off his shoes and belt in Los Angeles last month despite holding a diplomatic passport.


Because of the acts of a few people the whole Muslim world seems to have been labelled

Mahathir Mohamad
Mr Badawi, who is set to succeed Dr Mahathir when he retires next year, was on his way to New York to address the United Nations general assembly.

From Tuesday, the US is further toughening airport security by registering certain visitors who arrive from selected Arab and Muslim countries, including Malaysia.

PM 'upset'

Immigration officers now have the power to take photographs and fingerprint visitors from certain countries and match them against criminal and terrorist databases. Other countries targeted include Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Sudan.

"Of course I'm upset. I'm not a thief, I'm not a terrorist," Dr Mahathir told reporters on Tuesday.

"Because of the acts of a few people the whole Muslim world seems to have been labelled as they have to be checked to ensure they are not terrorists."

Asked what course of action Malaysia might take against the US, Dr Mahathir said: "It's their country so I don't know what we can do about it."

And Mr Badawi played down the strict security screening he had to go through.

"All of us had to undergo the same security checks, even the pilot," he told the Star newspaper.

Following his US visit he revealed Washington had placed Malaysia on a list of 15 states regarded as "high-risk", and that he had raised the issue with US Vice President Dick Cheney.

"I stressed in my meeting with Cheney that we don't like this profiling," he said.

Malaysia has arrested more than 60 suspected militants in the past year, who are mostly accused of trying to set up an Islamic state in South East Asia.

One of the suspects is alleged to have links with the al-Qaeda network blamed for the 11 September attacks on the US. Malaysian officials accuse Yazid Sufaat of having direct contact with two of the hijackers.


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See also:

01 Oct 02 | Americas
25 Oct 02 | Americas
06 Jun 02 | Middle East
26 Jun 02 | Americas
09 Apr 02 | Americas
16 May 02 | Americas
25 Jun 02 | Asia-Pacific
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