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'Anwar's religious image just a political front'


KUALA LUMPUR: Another former staunch supporter of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has come forward to reveal the latter's true colours.

Former Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement (Abim) president Dr Yusri Mohamad said Anwar, the opposition adviser who portrayed himself as an Islamic figure, did not have a firm stand on matters pertaining to Islam.

Recently, a close acquaintance of Anwar had given a damning assessment of the de facto Parti Keadilan Rakyat leader, saying that Anwar was not fit to lead the country.

Academician and former International Islamic University Malaysia deputy rector Prof Datuk Dr Sidek Baba, who has known Anwar for more than 30 years, said Anwar lacked the credibility to be prime minister.

Sidek said he realised the person Anwar really was when he did his own research on the latter for three years and met 28 people who were close allies of Anwar.

Yusri, who is also chairman of the Coalition of Malaysian Islamic non-governmental organisations (Pembela) and president of the Islamic and Strategic Studies Institute, said he had his fair share in opposition politics, especially during the early years of Reformasi.

He said he was worried with what had become of Anwar now.

"Anwar only maintains an external 'Islamic' image for political reasons, but does not have any firm stand on religious matters.

"Anwar is (politically) clever -- he maintains his contact with Islamic groups, including Abim, and figures like Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, but these are his contacts only at face value and to a limited extent.

"The Islamic groups have never been his inner circle.

"He might have consulted them for opinions, but they have no influence in his decision-making," Yusri said in an interview with the New Straits Times.

"At the same time, Anwar is trying to please everyone and (in doing so) contradicting himself.

"When he is with the liberals, he would support their cause.

"When he is with the Muslim groups, he would say something totally opposite.

"What is his real stand?"

On Abim's close relations with Anwar, Yusri said the movement should distance itself from partisan politics.

He claimed that Abim had lost influence in the country's Islamic dakwah for focusing too much to politics.

"After Anwar left Abim, the movement's focus still tends to be with him instead of core business, like education.

"I used to rebuff when some people jokingly referred to Abim as 'Anwar Bin Ibrahim's Movement', but if you look at its track record, it is true to some extent.

"Abim has not been able to divorce itself from the individual.

"Too much (of its) attention and imagination (are) coloured by Anwar. This is unfortunate as Abim can be bigger than Anwar or any political leader by contributing to education and societal development, among others."

Yusri added that despite riding on the image of an Islamic leader because of his background in Abim, Anwar had not extended much help to the organisation throughout his political years.

However, Abim leaders, who valued the sense of camaraderie, still stood behind Anwar when he was fired from the cabinet.

Yusri said the concept of 'Anwarism', which had been established in Abim much earlier than in Pas and Parti Keadilan Rakyat, had resulted in those who were not in Anwar's camp being sidelined.

"That is why people like me and former Abim secretary-general Datuk Sidek, who adopt a different and more critical approach, are not welcomed in the organisation's circle.

"It can be said that we are ostracised. I am also the only former president who has not been invited into Abim's Syura council."

Yusri also said the future of Islam in Malaysia would be in danger should Pakatan Rakyat be given the mandate to run the country.

"In issues like apostasy, religious pluralism and the use of the word 'Allah', the people cannot help but notice Pakatan's tendency to be too liberalist or pluralist.

"This is worrying because from a religious perspective, if one is willing to compromise in matters of faith and is disloyal to the teachings of Islam, one is courting disaster."

Yusri, who was the sixth Abim president from 2005 to 2009, said Barisan Nasional had a good track record in maintaining peace and stability in a multireligious and multiracial nation.

"A good thing about Umno leaders is that although they are not ulama (Islamic scholars), they are able to carry out their main responsibility, which is to drive the country forward.

"Knowing that religion is not their forte, they also do not try to be smart when it comes to religious matters.

"Umno leaders will listen to and have respect for Islamic scholars.

"They have humility and accept specialisation and authority.

"However, this is not the case with some Pakatan leaders, including Anwar, who tend to be too adventurous in Islamic affairs."

Former Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement president Dr Yusri Mohamad says Islamic groups have never been in Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s inner circle. Pic by Nurul Syazana Rose Razman

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