Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has give a vitriolic twist to the growing radical Islamic attacks in France.

The 83-year-old, who heads the United Malays National Organization and was premier of a nation whose multi-ethnic population is over 60% Muslim, put out a series of tweets in which he sought to say Muslims have a right to punish the French.

Seeking to target Charlie Hebdo over its provocative fron page cartoons, Mahathir said: "The killing is not an act that as a Muslim I would approve. But while I believe in the freedom of expression, I do not think it includes insulting other people. You cannot go up to a man and curse him simply because you believe in freedom of speech."

Taking on French President Emmanuel Macron, Mahathir said: "Macron is not showing that he is civilised. He is very primitive in blaming the religion of Islam and Muslims for the killing of the insulting school teacher. It is not in keeping with the teachings of Islam."

"But irrespective of the religion professed, angry people kill. The French in the course of their history has killed millions of people. Many were Muslims. Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past."

Reacting to Mahathir's tirade, Cédric O, Secretary of State for Digital Sector of France, said: "I just spoke with the Managing Director of Twitter France. The account of former Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad must be immediately suspended. If not, Twitter would be an accomplice to a formal call for murder"