Malaysian Newspaper Says Anwar Ibrahim Politicizes Allah Name Issue


A Malaysian newspaper has criticized opposition politician Anwar Ibrahim’s decision to publish on his blog statements by two U.S. Muslim Brotherhood organizations regarding the recent controversy over the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims in Malaysia. According to a translation of an article in Berita Harian (Malay):

The issue of Allah’s name has been politicized and ‘promoted’ at the international level. This was done by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the de facto leader of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat [PKR or People’s Justice Party], when he published the statement from the Islamic Society of North America [ISNA] on his blog. The NGO supports the decision made by the high court on 31 December last year, which permits the weekly paper Herald – The Catholic Weekly to use the word Allah. Without the knowledge of the Malaysian Constitution, in which Malaysian citizens are guaranteed freedom of religion and Article 11 (4) forbids non-Islamic religions from proselytizing Muslims, ISNA called on the government to acknowledge the freedom of religion of Christians in the country. Anwar also published a statement from the Council on American-Islamic Relations [CAIR], another US NGO, which called upon Muslims in the United States for donation to fix the church in Malaysia that had been damaged as a result of vandalism. The donation will be handed over to the Malaysian ambassador in Washington to be passed to the church concerned. The Cambodia Daily published Anwar’s writing in its opinion page with the title “God Is God to Both Islam and Christianity.” In the first paragraph, he writes: “We are outraged by the tragic attacks on our Christian brothers and sisters and reiterate our unequivocal condemnation of the bombing of churches in Malaysia.” In the fourth paragraph, his opinion reads: “…We must remember that the God who we worship is in fact the same God, the creator, and the sustainer of the universe.” In the last paragraph of his 12-paragraph opinion piece, Anwar says: “The Pakatan Rakyat [PR or People’s Alliance] will make the move to organize dialogue and discussions nationwide.”

The article goes on to discuss specific objections to the statements by ISNA and CAIR which a Hudson Institute report identifies as important parts of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood:

From these facts, several questions came to my mind. Among others, who or what is ISNA? This NGO does not have the locus standi to speak on behalf of anyone, including Muslims in Malaysia. The ISNA has no idea of the culture, history, and social background of the Malaysian people. But why did Anwar publish ISNA’s statement? This is one NGO that is quite influential in promoting religious tolerance. And what was Anwar’s motive to publish the statement of CAIR that described how badly the church had been damaged? The NGO’s attempt to collect donations also made the government appear unconcerned over the matter and seemingly failed to give equal protection to Christians in this country. But as a matter of fact, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak immediately announced to allocate 500,000 ringgits [M$] to the church administration to help them move or build new premises.

Dr. Ibrahim has many known ties to the global U.S Muslim Brotherhood including helping to found the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) where he currently serves as a director, representing Asian youth and serving as a trustee for the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) during the 1970’s and early 1980’s, and appearances at numerous Brotherhood-linked conferences. As a previous post has noted, Ibrahim was scheduled to speak last December at a conference in Istanbul that featured a large number of prominent speakers with ties to the global Brotherhood. Another post also discussed Ibrahim’s appearance at a Saudi economic forum. Western media coverage on Ibrahim tends to ignore this history which may be explained by a recent article from the Malaysian media on how Ibrahim has reinvented himself:

DATUK Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who started as a firebrand Islamic student activist, reinvented himself as a Malay nationalist after joining Umno in 1982 while continuing to promote and defend Islam. In 1999 after he was sacked, jailed and desperately fighting to save his political career, he had a difficult and momentous choice to make between forming a Malay-only nationalist party or a multi-racial party as his future political vehicle. Considering the need to show a united, strong political face – both to Malaysians and his legions of foreign supporters, Anwar chose a multi-racial platform. It was a “politically correct” decision and successfully piled the pressure to free him and return him to the political mainstream. But in the process Anwar lost the two main planks he had rode to come within a whisker of becoming Prime Minister – as champion of Malay nationalism and promoter and defender of Islam. Now, as a leader of a multi-racial party, he cannot speak exclusively about Malay nationalism or about Islam but has to present himself as a Malaysian leader and stand on a platform of equality, justice and fairness for all Malaysian races.

The Berita Harian article notes that Dr. Ibrahim was recently in Beirut, Lebanon, to attend a conference with Islamic thinkers and leaders, an event organized by IIIT which has been planning to establish a new university in Lebanon. The article concludes by reaffirming its view that Dr. Ibrahim has used the Allah name issue for political purposes:

After his failed attempt to change the government on 16 September 2008, as what he had proclaimed to the whole world, the West has lost their trust in Anwar. His dignity and credibility have been severely torn. Therefore he changes his strategy and uses religion as his platform, ostensibly to fight for equality and freedom of religion, to regain the West’s support. In the domestic context, Anwar politicizes the issue of Allah’s name to garner support from non-Muslims in anticipation to the forthcoming elections, especially in Sabah and Sarawak, where he has aspired to build his strength. He will continue to manipulate the issue by making different statements depending on which league he is in. Anuar Shaari, his former confidential secretary, said: “When he was the minister of agriculture in 1984, Anwar mentioned that there was bad intention in the Malay translation of the Bible. They had the agenda to ‘Christianize’ the Malays. But today, he talks about religious freedom and approves the use of the word Allah in the Malay translation of the Bible. These are obviously contradictory. This is certainly politics for personal interest.”

(Source: Berita Harian website, Kuala Lumpur, in Malay 15 Jan 10 BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific – Political Supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring January 15, 2010 Friday Malaysia: Article criticizes Anwar for politicizing Allah issue overseas Text of report by Malaysian newspaper Berita Harian website on 15 January [Article by Kamal Ahmad: “When Allah Issue Is Politicized”] Anwar’s Confusing Statement; Inaccurate Facts Likely To Undermine Faith)

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