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The Evolution of a Muslim Democrat

The Life of Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim

Series:

Charles Allers

Long before the recent «Arab Spring», when the topic of democracy with in many Muslim countries took center stage internationally, Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim, an energetic and charismatic politician, had been one of the most vocal global proponents of the compatibility of Islam and democratic principles. Anwar, who at one time was asked to be secretary-general of the United Nations, has lived a life that is a compelling testimony of the growth and evolution of his love for his country and his faith. Anwar has been active at the highest levels of Malaysian politics for over thirty years, and though he has been jailed for his activism on several occasions, he continues to be a dynamic, passionate voice for the diverse cultures, religions, and peoples of Malaysia. Anwar’s life story is told in a factual, impartial way, and his one-on-one interviews with this book’s author add a personal component. This volume is essential reading for scholars and students interested in Islamic politics and South East Asian studies.

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Foreword

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by Dr. John Esposito I first met Anwar Ibrahim in the mid–1970s when as a young professor I visited Malaysia. It is difficult today to appreciate how marginal Southeast Asian countries (politically, economically and educationally) and Islam were in America, from the US government to Academia. In contrast to European colonialism (specifically Great Britain and the Netherlands) which had a political, military, economic, educational and missionary presence and impact, America with the exception of its occupation of the Philippines (1898–1946), saw its interests elsewhere. Anwar Ibrahim has a long established and celebrated record as a remarkably popular and effective youth leader, founder of a reformist social movement, senior Malaysian government official, Islamic reformer and public intellectual. His contributions, accomplishments and integrity have been acknowledged for many years in Malaysia, throughout the Muslim world and in the international community. But the cost of his political prominence and activism at home has also meant hardship for Anwar Ibrahim and his family, vilification and imprisonment (1974–1976 and 1999– 2004); released from the latter when his conviction was overturned. Anwar’s career spanned five significant decades of major transitions and transformation in which he has been a major voice and player: Southeast Asia’s economic “miracle,” the so-called tiger economies of Indonesia, Singapore and others; the Islamic Resurgence and its impact from the Middle East to Southeast Asia; US-Muslim world relations from the Islamic resurgence to 9/11 and the “global war of terrorism;” and most recent turn of the Obama administration from its...

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