WHEN Nurul Izzah Anwar was elected last month to one of the senior leadership posts in Malaysia’s People’s Justice Party at the age of 30, she became the youngest person ever to hold such a position in the party’s history. Her success in contesting one of the four vice-presidential positions came just two years after she was elected to Parliament, but her public image has been more than a decade in the making and, whether she likes it or not, is inextricably tied to one of Malaysia’s most recognizable politicians. Ms. Nurul Izzah is the eldest daughter of Anwar Ibrahim, a former deputy prime minister, who over a decade ago was jailed on what he called politically inspired charges of sodomy and abuse of power. In a Muslim country with conservative attitudes toward matters of sex, the sodomy charges were scandalous. But they were ultimately overturned in 2004, and Mr. Anwar emerged from prison having undergone a transformation into the leader of Malaysia’s opposition. The tangled episode also triggered a political awakening in Ms. Nurul Izzah, who was just 18 at the time of her father’s arrest. She got her start in public life with an impassioned plea for his freedom before the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, and that set her on a path to Malaysia’s Parliament. Now, as her father, who was re-elected to Parliament in 2008, faces a second sodomy trial that he has denounced as similarly trumped up, this time to thwart his political return, Ms. Nurul Izzah’s own political star is rising.
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In 2003, an Australian television station reported that the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), where Anwar Ibrahim serves as a director, had sent a large sum of money (believed to be about RM300,000/$92,000), to Nurul Izzah as scholarship even though the amount exceeded what was required for her education. In a statement issued from prison, Ibrahim responded to the charges as follows:
In connection with IIIT’s award of a scholarship to my daughter Nurul Izzah, I would like to state that Muslims in America made a special donation to sponsor the education of all six of my children during the five years that I have been in jail. I believe that the media strategy is to make a big thing out of these false accusations in an attempt to confuse Malaysians. The authorities will issue a statement to the effect that investigations are be initiated, and the matter will quietly end there since their aim of arousing the people’s suspicions will have already been achieved. Anwar Ibrahim.
According a Hudson Institute report, IIIIT was founded in the U.S. in 1980 by U.S. Muslim Brotherhood leaders including Jamal Barzinji and Hisham Altalib who wished to promote the Islamization of Knowledge as conceived by Al-Faruqi and who were also early leaders of ISNA. IIIT was associated with the now defunct SAAR Foundation, a network of Islamic organizations located in Northern Virginia that was raided by the Federal government in March 2002 in connection with the financing of terrorism and both organizations had been under investigation at that time by the U.S. Justice Department until at least mid 2007. The organization appeared to have withdrawn from public view following the 2002 raids but seems to be enjoying a renaissance of late. IIIT has a network of affiliates located in Europe, Africa, the MIddle East, and Asia. Although little is known about the activities of these IIIT affiliates, recent posts have discussed plans by IIIT to construct colleges in Bosnia and Lebanon. At the very least, for a non-profit organization such as IIIT to transfer a large sum of money to the children of one of its directors would appear to be a violation of IRS non-profit regulations.
Anwar Ibrahim has many known ties to the global U.S Muslim Brotherhood include helping to found the International Institute of Islamic Thought 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 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 Muslim Brotherhood. Another recent post also discussed Ibrahim’s appearance at a Saudi economic forum. The current media coverage on Ibrahim appear to be ignoring 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.