The Philippines' recently elected president, Rodrigo Duterte, has welcomed a comparison of his role in the war on drugs to Adolf Hitler. The German government has called his comments "unacceptable."
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte continued his course of brash public statements on Friday, when he likened his crusade against drug dealers and addicts to the Holocaust.
Speaking to a press conference in his hometown of Davao, the president said he would be "happy to slaughter" the country's 3 million drug users.
At first, Duterte seemed perturbed that the media portrayed him as a "cousin of Hitler" due to his bloody anti-drug campaign without investigating the breadth of the problem.
He appeared to quickly change tack, however, and welcomed the comparison. "Hitler massacred 3 million Jews ... there's 3 million drug addicts. There are. I'd be happy to slaughter them," Duterte said, seemingly unaware that nearly 6 million Jewish people were killed by the Third Reich.
"At least if Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have…" he added, pointing to himself. He added the caveat that while Hitler's victims had been innocent, his were not.
Since taking office at the end of June, Duterte's war on drugs has claimed the lives of 1,247 suspects. The president has refused to back down or apologize for his violent policies, saying that scare tactics were necessary to solve the country's trafficking and drug abuse problems.
International outrage over comments
The German Foreign Ministry released a statement on Friday after asking the Philippine envoy to "come to the ministry for a discussion on this issue." In the statement, the ministry slammed Duterte's remarks, calling them "unacceptable."
"It is impossible to make any comparison to the unique atrocities of the Holocaust," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schäfer in Berlin.
The World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder likewise labeled the Philippine leader's comments as "revolting," calling on him to apologize.
"Drug abuse is a serious issue. But what President Duterte said is not only profoundly inhumane, but it demonstrates an appalling disrespect for human life that is truly heartbreaking for the democratically elected leader of a great country," Lauder said in a statement issued from Jerusalem, where he was attending former Israeli leader Shimon Peres' funeral.
The Asia deputy director for Human Rights Watch, Phil Robertson, remarked it was baffling that someone would compare themselves to "one of the largest mass murderers in human history."
After just a few short months in power, Duterte has already become famous around the world for his inflammatory rhetoric - famously calling US President Barack Obama 'a son of a whore' - though he later distanced himself from that comment. On Friday, however, he added more fuel to the fire by calling his critics in the European Union a "group of idiots in the purest form."
rs, es/rc, kl (AP, AFP, Reuters)