Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines president, appears to have compared himself to Hitler, saying he would be “happy to slaughter” millions of drug addicts in his bloody war on crime.
During a press conference in his home city of Davao, the former prosecutor told reporters that he had been compared to a “cousin of Hitler” by his critics.
“If Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have…,” he said, pausing and pointing to himself.
“Hitler massacred three million Jews … there’s three million drug addicts. There are. I’d be happy to slaughter them.”
More than six million Jews were killed by the Nazis and their collaborators before and during the second world war, according to historians.
Germany’s government slammed Duterte’s comments as unacceptable. “It is impossible to make any comparison to the unique atrocities of the Shoah and Holocaust,” said a foreign ministry spokesman, Martin Schaefer.
The World Jewish Congress president, Ronald Lauder, said Duterte’s remarks were “revolting” and demanded that he retract them and apologise.
“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.”
Phil Robertson, Asia deputy director for Human Rights Watch, said it was baffling why anyone would want to compare themselves to “one of the largest mass murderers in human history.”
“Does he want to be sent to the international criminal court? Because he’s working his way there,” he added.
Duterte has spent his first three months in office running a campaign to kill all involved in the rampant drugs trade, including alleged addicts, causing outrage from rights groups and foreign governments.
More than 3,500 alleged drug dealers and addicts have been killed, about a third of them in police operations but the majority by armed vigilante militias. Duterte has publicly encouraged civilians to kill addicts and said he will not prosecute police for extrajudicial executions.
“You know my victims. I would like (them) to be all criminals to finish the problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition,” he said during the press conference early on Friday.
Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report