(JTA) — Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte compared his campaign to eliminate drug use in his country to the Holocaust, saying he would like to kill millions of drug dealers and users.
“Hitler massacred 3 million Jews. Now, there are 3 million drug addicts. … I’d be happy to slaughter them,” Duterte told reporters Friday, GMA News reported.
Duterte was addressing critics who have compared him to Hitler for his “war on drugs,” which has left over 3,000 Filipinos dead since he took office in July. (Six million Jews were estimated to have been killed in the Holocaust.)
Jewish groups such strongly condemned the comparison between the Holocaust and a drug war. The Anti-Defamation League called Duterte’s comments “baffling.”
“These comments by the Philippine president are shocking,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s CEO. “The comparison of drug users and dealers to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust is inappropriate and deeply offensive.”
“It is notable that the Philippines has a proud history of providing refuge to over a thousand Jews fleeing Hitler’s genocide,” he added.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Digital Terrorism and Hate project, said Duterte owes Holocaust victims an apology for his “disgusting rhetoric.”
This is not Duterte’s first controversial statement as president. After President Barack Obama criticized the Philippines government’s mass detention of drug dealers in August, Duterte called him a phrase that has been widely translated as “son of a whore.”
The United Nations and the European Union also both oppose Duterte’s drug war tactics. Many of the related killings have been carried out by vigilante groups, who target names on police lists — which may or may not be accurate — and, according to the Washington Post, leave bodies on the sides of roads with signs that read “pusher.”