Sunday, September 12, 2004

Newsweek International : The Last Word: Ready to Get Back to Work


'So many dictators do things in the name of Islam. [But they] are just protecting their own vested interests, not protecting Islam.'

Sept. 20 issue - After nearly six years in prison, Anwar Ibrahim was unexpectedly released on Sept. 2. The former deputy prime minister of Malaysia and longtime proponent of reform in the Islamic world immediately flew to Munich, Germany, to undergo surgery for a back injury. But he won't be resting long. Anwar—who still claims his incarceration was politically motivated and that his back injury was the result of a beating by police while he was in custody—is eager as ever to resume his reform agenda. NEWSWEEK's Lorien Holland spoke to Anwar by telephone last week.

(excerpt from interview)

After your release you said you wanted to watch three videos, including Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11." Have you had time to see it yet?

I just received a copy today and I am interested to see it as soon as I have the time. But I don't want this "Fahrenheit 9/11" sentiment to deflect the real problems in Muslim countries. I don't want things like "Fahrenheit 9/11" to be a pretext for autocratic regimes to deflect their own weaknesses onto others. I was one of the few to speak out about Saddam. I was disgusted with Saddam's regime. Does that mean I support the U.S. occupation? No, it doesn't. We must attack Muslims for their utter failures on human-rights issues. No one should dispute the fact that people have basic rights to speak freely and organize themselves. If you don't want to call it democracy, if you think this is a Western term, then fine. But you cannot go on denying these basic rights forever. So many dictators do things in the name of Islam. These people give excuses and say their people are not ready to accept democracy, but they are just protecting their own vested interests, not protecting Islam.

(click on the title for the whole interview)

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