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Reuters: Malaysia's Anwar Fears Less U.S. Help on Democracy
By Reuters

11/10/2001 1:30 am Thu

[Rencana ini kurang betul sedikit. Mahathir tidak mempamirkan Islam yang lembut tetapi satu fahaman baru(a) mengenai Islam. - Editor]

Malaysia's Anwar Fears Less U.S. Help on Democracy

October 10, 2001 01:54 AM ET

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Jailed Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim fears U.S. support for democratic causes in Muslim countries will be weakened by its search for support in its war against terrorism.

"Necessity will prompt the U.S. to seek the collaboration of the governments of Muslim countries... But they do not hold all the answers to terrorism," Anwar wrote in an essay to be submitted as part of a lawsuit and made available to media by his lawyer this week.

The United States describes Anwar as a political prisoner. He is serving a 15-year jail term for crimes he says were fabricated to stop a challenge against Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in 1998.

President Bush and Prime Minister Mahathir are due to meet during an international summit in Shanghai later this month to discuss their approaches to counter terrorism.

It will be the first top level meeting since a row between Malaysia and the previous U.S. administration in 1999 over Anwar's treatment.

Anwar, a former deputy prime minister, urged the United States to continue to promote its ideals, saying it was the lack of opportunity for democratic expression that resulted in people such as Osama bin Laden, turning to terrorism.

"Bin Laden and his proteges are the children of desperation; they come from countries where political struggle through peaceful means is futile," Anwar said.

Washington says the Saudi-born dissident and guerrilla leader holed up in Afghanistan is the prime suspect in the September 11 attacks which killed thousands of people in the United States.

"The growth of democracy, political participation and civil society is the final answer," Anwar wrote.

"By softening its endorsement of the struggle for democracy and the protection of human rights, the U.S. will inadvertently strengthen dictatorial regimes."

Anwar was once in line to succeed Mahathir but was sacked in 1998 and convicted on sex and corruption charges he says were invented to stop him from exposing government corruption.

The government dismisses Anwar's allegations.

The largest party in the opposition front backing Anwar wants to create a more conservative Islamic state in Malaysia.

Mahathir has promoted a softer, more progressive version of Islam during his 20-ear rule over the multicultural democracy, where Muslims make up about two-thirds of its 22 million people, but conservative forces have grown stronger.

The largest party in the opposition bloc, Parti Islam se-Malaysia, has condemned the U.S. and British air strikes on Afghanistan after earlier condemning the attacks on Washington and New York.

Anwar's lawyer, Sankara Nair, said on Tuesday the lawsuit will be brought against a state controlled broadcaster for allegedly characterizing the former deputy prime minister as an extremist and a threat to national security.