Hijacked Islam - who indeed Mr Anwar? By Farish Noor - Recollect this after September 11
Wednesday, November 05, 2014
Do NOT forget that Anwar Ibrahim was the catalyst for all the racism, extremism and fanaticism now. He is personally responsible, no bullshit from him, will absolve him of this. Yep, he ain't no Saint.
Malaysiakini : Having read the article entitled 'Who Hijacked Islam' (1) by none other
than the ex-deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, this writer can only
say that he agrees fully with the sentiments that were expressed by the
author of the piece. Anwar was quite right to point out that terrorism has no basis in Islam
and that traditional Islamic jurisprudence regards all acts of terror as
an abomination and crime against humanity in general.
The problem with Anwar's timely piece, however, is not so much the message but the messenger himself. If Anwar thought that being in jail means that he is now free to
criticise the dictatorial regimes that litter the landscape of the
Muslim world today, he has obviously overlooked the fact that many of us
still remember his role as a supporter and ally to some of the very
same regimes he now condemns with such righteous fervour.
For was it not the same radical Islamist-turned-liberal Anwar Ibrahim
who openly supported the revolutionary movement in Iran while parroting
the slogans of the Iranian revolutionaries who then condemned the United
States (and the West in general) as the 'Great Satan'? (The systematic extermination of thousands of secular intellectuals,
and the Mujahideen by the revolutionary regime was something that many
of their fans in other parts of the Muslim world turned a blind eye to
Was it not the same Anwar Ibrahim who was once honoured by the 'Islamic'
dictator of Pakistan, General Zia 'ul Haq, for his services to Islam?
Anwar was quite willing to accept such decorations, despite the fact
that General Zia was himself a willing recipient of American military
aid and he had used the radical Islamist movements to wipe out the
in Pakistan. (2) And was it not the very same Anwar Ibrahim - who today calls for a
culture of tolerance and pluralism - who lead the Islamist activists as
they 'cleaned out' the local university campuses of leftist students,
'secular' ideas and everything they regarded as un-Islamic in the 1970s?
(With the help of such unlikely characters like Ibrahim Ali, one might
It is therefore ironic that Anwar, of all people, should state that "in
Malaysia, the government-controlled media have been deployed to stir up
anti-American sentiments, while members of the political elite use a
different language for international diplomacy." This, if anything, sums up Anwar's own adroit use of political rhetoric
and the language of political correctness which has served his agenda
all along. The very same Anwar who lambasted the West and the United
States in particular in the 1970s now speaks with a different voice - or
rather many different voices- aimed at a plethora of constituencies
ranging from the lobbyists in Washington to the radical Islamists closer
One again, it has to be noted that the core of Anwar's message - couched
as it is in universal terms - comes across as agreeable to many. When
he states that "the need for Muslim societies to address their internal
social and political development has become more urgent than ever.
Economic development alone is clearly insufficient: it creates its own
tensions in the social and
political spheres, which must be addressed", few (including this writer)
would disagree with that. But the question remains: what exactly was Anwar's own contribution to
this effort while he was in power as a member of government from 1982 to
After the economic and political crises of 1997-98, few Malaysians would
still believe that Anwar himself was untainted after his long
association with power. The revelation of his own network of cronies and
business buddies has long since dispelled the notion that the man was
an angel who naively walked into the murky lair of realpolitik. But what of Anwar's own contribution to the creation of a climate of
fear and oppression in the country, and the consolidation of the very
same authoritarian regime he now so despises?
Was it not the same Anwar who played the leading role in the state's attacks on the Islamist opposition? Was it not Anwar who lead the way in the long-protracted and often
bitter confrontation against the Pan-Malaysian Islamist Party (PAS)? Was it not Anwar who condemned the PAS leader Ustaz Ibrahim Mahmood
Libya) as an intolerant, extremist fanatic who had to be stopped at all
costs? (Ibrahim Mahmood was finally killed in a violent confrontation
with security forces in Memali, Kedah, in 1985). And was it not the same Anwar who helped to crush the urban-based
neo-Sufi Darul Arqam movement led by Ustaz Ashaari Muhammad in 1994?
In all these cases, could anyone doubt the fact that Anwar was not only a
senior leader in the establishment he now vilifies, but also a key
player in the fight against the Islamist opposition in Malaysia? How - after all these arrests, detentions, interrogations and killings - did he expect a stable and
peaceful political climate to emerge? It was therefore well and fine that Anwar had come up with such soothing
formulae like: "intellectuals and politicians must have the courage to
condemn fanaticism in all its forms. But they must, in the same breath,
equally condemn the tyrants and oppressive regimes that dash every hope
of peaceful change."
However, the glib rhetoric of Anwar cannot - and should not - allow him
to escape the past and his own complicity in helping to create those
'tyrants and oppressive regimes' that he now wants to distance himself
from. Not only does Anwar have to answer for the past, he also has to answer
to what is being done in the present in his name and the values he
claims to represent. At one point in his article, Anwar writes that "it is the sense of
alienation and the perception that the world is against them that
nurture bitterness among those who resort to terrorism." One can only
wonder: is it the same sense of 'alienation' and 'bitterness' that has
forced him and the
party he helped to create (Keadilan) to take the path that it has?
Was it mere bitterness and alienation that compelled Anwar's party to
form an instrumental alliance with the Islamist Party PAS, which today
has called on the Muslims of Malaysia to support a jihad (holy war) against the United States and the West? How, in short, could Anwar present himself to the West as a defender of
liberal values, democratic culture, civil society and toleration when
his own party has worked with an Islamist opposition party that is
clearly bent on creating an Islamic state in Malaysia according to the
narrow understanding of Islam as espoused by some of its
(In fact, not only has Keadilan worked with PAS, its leaders have even
endorsed some of the more controversial positions taken by them.
Witness, for instance, their early endorsement of PAS' initial decision
to introduce strict dress codes for women in Terengganu.) To ask the question 'who hijacked Islam' is indeed timely and necessary
at this juncture of Muslim history. Who indeed, Mr Anwar? The sad thing is, we all know the answer - except for some of us who
continue to delude ourselves.