Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bakri Musa Likens Anwar to Anwar Sadat

It caused some disquiet when Dr Bakri Musa, a Malaysian doctor practising in California likened Anwar Ibrahim to Egypt’s long dead President, Anwar Sadat.

What did he mean and why so?

The good doctor came out with such a label on October 26, 2006 after listening to Anwar talking on “Democracy and the Muslim World” at Stanford University.

Nevertheless, after almost seven years, Dr Bakri’s prognosis rings true, when today we see Anwar strident, although going through great pains to defend his controversial statement, in which he stood by the defence of Israel as published by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recently.

This time around the issue differs, but the context is almost the same.

Last January 26, WSJ reported Anwar saying, “I support all efforts to protect the security of the state of Israel,” said Mr. Anwar, although he stopped short of saying he would open diplomatic ties with the Jewish state, a step which he said remains contingent on Israel respecting the aspirations of Palestinians”

Following the above statement, PAS spiritual advisor Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat came out with his own statement on February 13 while reading out the decision of PAS Ulama Council.

He said, “I, as the spiritual leader of PAS, and with the consent of all members of the party’s Ulama Council call upon Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to retract his statement as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

“If the statement was misreported or carried a different meaning, I and the whole of the Ulama Council advise Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to institute legal proceedings by suing The Wall Street Journal, in order to clear his name.”

It was after this that Anwar hastened to call on Nik Aziz, where he stressed on the phrase ‘contigent’, although in the disputed statement he had used the phrase, ‘all efforts’ to justify his refusal to obey what the Ulama Council wanted him to do.

It was rather interesting to be told that Anwar went alone to meet up with Nik Aziz, who was accompanied by PAS Information Chief, Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man at Kuala Lumpur’s PNB Darby Park Condominium.

Appraising the situation from political eyes, Anwar’s going alone to meet Nik Aziz, who was with Tuan Ibrahim, in itself, was in a symbolism of sorts.

Confirmation and its Ramifications

After the hour-long meeting, Anwar was asked by reporters if he would really sue WSJ. Anwar replied,” Why should I sue WSJ? They used the word ‘contingent’, which was not mentioned by UMNO media. They (UMNO media) only reported a twist to what the WSJ reported last January 26…it was not a misreport, instead it was their own words.

According to former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Anwar’s refusal to sue WSJ only proved that the opposition leader indeed supported Israel.

Meanwhile, after the meeting Nik Aziz stressed that “understanding Datuk Seri Anwar’s explanation, I would like to repeat our stand in PAS, as agreed by the Ulama Council…that PAS will never ever recognise the illegitimate state of Israel. As such, PAS will continue its support for the people of Palestine, who have been humiliated in their own land. It’s up to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim whether to accept PAS’s stand on the matter.

Based on the statements by Anwar and Nik Aziz after the February 21 meeting, it showed that both stood by what they have said. Therefore, even if the meeting had not taken place, Anwar would still stand by his statement of January 26, which appeared in WSJ, while Nik Aziz holds fast to the stance decided by the Ulama Council on February 13.

Although many saw no relevance in the meeting, nevertheless Anwar surely was harassed by what the Ulama Council had decided for him to do. Why? Because earlier on he was dallying in ‘tai chi’ moves over what he had said about supporting Israel.

And as long as the Ulama Council does not reconvene another meeting to have the statement retracted, it will go down in history like what happened in 1926 to Egypt’s Ali Raziq, the intellectual father of Islamic laicism or secularism (the separation of state and religion, not the secularization of society). Like Anwar, Ali was given the ultimatum by Egyptian Ulama Council whether to retract his stand or face the consequences.

Anwar’s pro-Israel affirmation can be traced as far back as the 1990s. It was not until February 21, 2012 that this was confirmed.

Anwar Sadat

Ever since Anwar was labelled as pro-Israel towards the end of the 1990s, the first non-political individual to confirm his stance came in the rather unlikely form of a surgeon – a Malaysian who resides in the U.S.

But, living in the U.S. did not stop Dr Bakri Musa from closely following political developments in Malaysia, through the convenience of the Internet, mostly.

And so, there he was, attentively listening to Anwar expounding on ‘Democracy and the Muslim World’ at Stanford University on that day of October 12, 2006.

Incidentally, at that time Anwar, too, was residing in the U.S, where he was visiting lecturer at Georgetown University’s Center for Muslim and Christian Understanding (CMCU).

Anwar’s talk at Stanford University was organised by the FSI (The Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies), in collaboration with the university’s CDDRL (Center for Democracy, Development and Rule of Law) and Shorenstein APARC (Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center).

After having listened to Anwar’s talk, Dr Bakri concluded that Anwar was among Islamic leaders who could be looked upon to ‘build the bridge’ between Islam and the West. He attributed this to Anwar’s understanding and his easy demeanour with the West… For that, Dr Bakri said he likened Anwar to Egypt’s Anwar Sadat.”

“At one time, when the Bush Administration had wanted some help from the Islamic world, several names was put up as candidates – one of whom was Anwar.

In his website, Dr Bakri said although many of Anwar’s supporters have been concerned about his connection with the ‘neo-cons’, Anwar, nevertheless, was able to defend his stand.

For sure, Dr Bakri had his reasons when he equated Anwar to Anwar Sadat.

Anwar Sadat was Egypt’s third president (1970-1981).

On November 20, 1977, Sadat became the first Arab leader to visit Israel officially when he met with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and spoke before the Knesset in Jerusalem about his views on how to achieve a comprehensive peace to the Arab-Israeli conflict, which included the full implementation of UN Resolutions 242 and 338.

The Egyptian–Israeli Peace Treaty was signed by Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in Washington, DC, on 26 March 1979, following the Camp David Accords (1978), a series of meetings between Egypt and Israel facilitated by US President Jimmy Carter.

The treaty was extremely unpopular in the Arab World and the wider Muslim World. Anwar Sadat was seen as a traitor to Arab unity and pan-Arabism.

For his efforts, Jimmy Carter was feted as the ‘father of peace’ by the Americans.

On Oct. 7, 1981, which marked Egypt’s Armed Forces Day, in commemoration of the Egyptian Third Army’s launching of a surprise attack on that day in 1973 against Israeli forces occupying the Sinai since 1967, several soldiers riding in a truck that was part of the military parade jumped to the ground and strode toward the reviewing stand. One soldier threw a grenade while others opened fire killing Sadat.

Eleven others were killed, including the Cuban ambassador, an Omani general, and a Coptic Orthodox bishop. Twenty-eight were wounded, including Vice President Hosni Mubarak, Irish Defence Minister James Tully, and four US military liaison officers.

At Sadat’s funeral on Oct. 10, 1981, the United States was represented by three former presidents: Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon. Ronald Reagan did not attend, ostensibly because of fears over his safety.
Most Arab leaders did not turn up except for Sudan’s President, Gaafar Nimeiry.

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