Monday, February 6, 2012

What did Anwar do in Turkey?

Going by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s reply, only Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan extended an invite for him give a talk on ‘Islam, Democracy and Freedom’ at Dolmabache Palace in Istanbul soon after his acquittal on a charge of sodomy by the Kuala Lumpur High Court of January 9, 2012.

Or at least that was the perception that Anwar had wanted to establish in all his tweets, in which he painstakingly tried to portray his greatness to the extent that the Turkish PM would not be able to lead his country properly without Anwar’s guidance.

However, when PKR President Dr Wan Azizah Ismail, Deputy President Azmin Ali and PKR Secretary-General Saifuddin Nasution tagged along to Turkey, the desired perception failed to materialise because it defied logic that a staff member of PKR, who was not even leading a government was guiding Erdogan to rule his country.

So, what was the real reason for Anwar and the other PKR leaders visit to Turkey?

Islam and Democracy

Reading, which reported Anwar praising Turkey as ‘a model of a new democracy’ in the context of the ‘Arab Spring’ for the whole Islamic world to emulate, makes us want to ask what was the real nature of business that the de facto PKR leader needed to attend to.

“That was the reason for my excitement when the Turkish Prime Minister (spoke), touching on human rights issues, freedom for all and issues relating to self respect for all men and women as universal principles, not only for Turkey and the West,” said, quoting Anwar’s words.

Taking a passage from the aforementioned statement by Anwar, it had tried to give credence to the perception that Anwar was invited to ‘teach’ Tayyip Erdogan. No, it is more likely instead of Anwar ‘teaching’ Erdogan, it is the other way round.

According to Anwar, the West is closely watching Turkey and Indonesia as models for Islam and Democracy within the Islamic world, as well as the perceived ‘winds of change’ brought on by the Arab Spring, which is touted as being emulated across the region.

“It is timely when the Turkish Prime Minister chose to stand on the premise that no leader can sustain his rule without taking into account the sentiments and aspirations of his people.

“I will always be optimistic of the Arab Spring and the future of the world of Islam. We can see how Turkey has succeeded in democratisation and change,” he told the audience at the ‘Alliance of Civilisation’ programme in Istanbul.

‘Alliance of Civilisations’

According to Wikipedia, ‘The Alliance of Civilisation’ or ‘AoC’ is an initiative mooted by former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero at the 59th United Nations General Assembly in 2005.

The idea was supported by Erdogan in seeking to galvanize international action against extremism through the forging of international, intercultural and inter-religious dialogue and cooperation. The aim of the initiative was to produce actionable, time-bound recommendations by the end of 2006 for UN member states to adopt.

In essence the UN action plan is aimed at increasing inter-cultural and inter-faith cooperation to close the divide between the West and the Islamic world.

To this end, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan brought together a High-Level Group (HLG) comprising 20 of the world’s eminent persons representing various fields of expertise, including academic policy makers, civil society, religious leaders and the media.

Among the group were former president of Iran, Seyed Mohamed Khatami, South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu, authority on comparative religions Karen Armstrong (UK), founder of Georgetown University’s Centre for Muslim-Christian Understanding (CMCU), Professor John Esposito (US), founder and president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation and spiritual leader of Park East Synagogue, New York, Rabbi Schneier, and others.

In April 2007, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon appointed former president of Portugal Jorge Sampaio as High Representative of the AoC at the UN Headquarters in New York.

The AoC Secretariat organised the "Dialogue of Civilizations" award at the 2007 RUMI Peace and Dialogue award ceremony co-sponsored by the Rumi Forum and the Georgetown University Center for Peace and Security Research in Washington.
The AoC’s official website can be inspected at

The Jesuit Network

If this is the background of the programme, which Anwar attended in Turkey, it can be concluded that it is, invariably, a platform for the Jesuit network, which uses Turkey as its host.

Turkey’s position with regards to this complicity is made stronger when it hosted a similar programme from April 6-7, 2009 in Istanbul.

The first AoC forum held in Spain from January 15-16, 2008 passed several important resolutions, which included:

- The setting up of
Silatech, which aim to address the critical and growing need to create jobs and economic opportunities for young people. Funding for the project was provided by Qatar’s HH Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Missned, who made a private commitment of $100 million to “seed-fund” the initiative in collaboration with World Bank, HSBC and the broad support of several high profile corporations.

- Announcement of a multi-million dollar AoC Media Fund, the first-of-its-kind non-profit large-scale media production company focused on normalising images of stereotyped communities and minorities in mass media through partnerships with major Hollywood production, distribution, and talent management companies. The Fund was launched with an initial commitment of USD10 million, and an estimated target of USD100 million.

- Establishment of a Youth Solidarity Fund aimed at providing grants to support youth-led programs in the areas of intercultural and interfaith dialogue, and decision to strengthen the network of youth participants who attended the AoC Forum and broaden the network to include other youth.

With all these activities in the pipeline, it was no wonder that Dr Wan Azizah, Azmin Ali and Saifuddin Nasution also attended the programme.

But, why was Anwar invited as among the speakers? That, too, comes as no surprise – not because of the Erdogan factor, but more important the participation of two personalities from the High-Level Group of the AoC, comprising Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Professor John Esposito.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu was the first of such personalities with whom Anwar met following his treatment in Munich, Germany in December 2004.

Awarded the ‘Presidential Medal of Freedom’ in 2009, for leading an active crusade in support of among other things, homosexuality and racial reconciliation as sponsored by the UN and the US. He is also a prominent figure in several organisations including the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and The Elders, which claim to be an independent group of global leaders who work together for peace and human rights.

As for John Esposito, he can be considered as Anwar’s mentor.

Since way back in 2001, in his book “Makers of Contemporary Islam” Esposito classified Anwar as a ‘Moderate Muslim’, along with Palestinian-American philosopher the late Isma'il Raji al-Faruqi, Chairman of Pakistan’s Institute of Policy Studies Khurshid Ahmad, ideological elder of Tunisia's Ennahda, or the Renaissance Party Rashid Ghannoushi, Sudan’s Hasan al-Turabi, Iranian thinker Abdolkarim Soroush, and Indonesia’s Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur).

In another book, “Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam”, Esposito sees Anwar as “an unabashed globalist well suited to the modern world of markets and media” and a “liberal”… “He remains, a significant voice on issues of socio-political and economic development, advocating pluralism in multi-religious societies and inter-civilisational dialogue… Pluralism and tolerance based upon mutual respect and understandings are cornerstones of Anwar Ibrahim’s vision of a civilisational dialogue on convivencia (living together), which alludes to the spirit of Roger II’s twelfth-century Sicily and Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula in centres like Toledo, Cordoba, and Granada.” In Iberia, Christians, Muslims and Jews lived together in a context of social intercourse and cultural exchange.

After Anwar’s release from prison, Esposito took him in as visiting lecturer at his Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (CMCU) at Georgetown University, US.

Georgetown University is a private Jesuit research university whose main campus is in the Georgetown neighbourhood of Washington, D.C. Founded in 1789, it is the oldest Catholic university in the United States.

Georgetown's founding by John Carroll realized efforts dating from 1634 to establish a Roman Catholic college in the province of Maryland. Later, Caroll went on to become the first Bishop of the US.

As the first Jesuit private university in the US, it purportedly brought together Christian intellectuals for what detractors believe as the caderisation process that staunchly abides by the directions of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Jesuits is the short reference to the Society of Jesus, founded and conceived by the Christian theologian Ignatius Loyola, who led a catholic male religious order known colloquially as "God's Marines".

Besides his credential as a Jesuit activist, John Esposito is described by the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report website,, as a ‘foreign affairs analyst’ for the US State Department Intelligence Agency (INR).

The World Interfaith Harmony Week

AoC’s programme in Istanbul was held in conjunction with ‘The World Inter-Faith Harmony Week”, which was approved to be held by the UN on the first week of February every year.
The basis for the World Interfaith Harmony Week is the ‘Common Word Initiative’ founded in 2007, which urge for Muslim and Christian leaders to work together on the basis of dialogue.

According to the website,, the initiative is based on a memorandum of October 2007 known as ‘A Common Word between Us and You’, which claimed to have been written by several Islamic authorities and scholars from around the world to the Pope.

Anwar Ibrahim’s name was among the group of apologetic signatories of the memorandum.

The interfaith dialogue between Muslims and Christians, which has been extended to Judaism (the Jews) and perceived as the three ‘monotheistic’ religions based on the concept of ‘Love of God, and Love of the Neighbour’.

It also encompasses Hinduism and Buddhism.

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