18 April 2014, Friday
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Ibrahim: Turkey gives Muslim world hope in the Arab Spring

3 February 2012, Friday /ALYSON NEEL
Former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has said that Turkey's democratic reforms give the entire Muslim world hope for the future of the Arab Spring.

Ibrahim discussed on Thursday the overlapping roles of Islam and democracy in the reforms sweeping North Africa and the Middle East at this month's Alliance of Civilizations meeting in İstanbul. “The Muslim masses want leadership,” Ibrahim said. “The Muslim world needs an effective voice to represent the call for freedom and justice.” Turkey's role and influence in the Arab Spring is “critical,” Ibrahim stressed, adding that both the Western and Muslim world are looking to Turkey and Indonesia, another flourishing Muslim democracy, at a time of great political change.

The developments in Turkey, Indonesia and in the Arab Spring countries offer the Muslim world a fresh voice, Ibrahim said.

The Malaysian politician described the excitement that bubbled among the masses and the complete silence of the leaders of the repressive regimes of countries that witnessed the Arab Spring uprisings. “This is why I was excited when the prime minister came out and presented the issue of human rights, the issue of freedom for all and the issue of dignity for all men and women as a universal construct, not just a Turkish or Western construct,” he said. “It was timely that the prime minister took a position that no leader can continue without representing the sentiments and aspirations of the people.” “I remain optimistic about the Arab Spring and the future of the Muslim world. We see how Turkey has navigated [successful democratization efforts and reforms],” said Ibrahim of the Muslim world’s generally positive view of Turkey. “Keep up the good work,” he encouraged.

Democracy is often heralded as an ideal that belongs to the West, but Ibrahim disagreed.

“Democracy is not just a Western construct,” Ibrahim said. “Do you realize that Indonesia, the largest Muslim democracy in the world, had free, democratic elections in 1955?”

Ibrahim said he used to joke with former US Vice President Al Gore that Indonesia’s elections in 1955 were far more democratic than Florida’s in 2000. “Why do you think Muslim countries have risen up against exploitation, imperialism and colonization? Because they honor freedom,” he told the crowd gathered at the prime minister’s office in Dolmabahçe Palace.

“The Arab Spring will not be successful if it follows a Western model,” Ibrahim emphasized. And on the question of what sort of government should be established in the place of the toppled regimes, Ibrahim said simply, “Let the Arabs decide.”

But there are universal principles, Ibrahim said, that will not be compromised. “The freedom of expression, the freedom of speech and the battle against corruption and greed … these values we will not compromise,” he said.

Contrasting Turkey, Malaysia’s ‘democracies’

“Turkey is a democracy. Malaysia is not,” Ibrahim said matter-of-factly. Ibrahim argued it is wrong to call Malaysia a democracy. “There is not one free media outlet in Malaysia,” he said.

On Thursday morning, Ibrahim said he read on the front page of a Turkish newspaper a stringent criticism of the prime minister’s most recent comments. “This is what a democracy is all about -- the right to disagree,” he said.

“I often joke that in Malaysia we have freedom of speech, but not after speech,” said Ibrahim, who was fired from his position as deputy prime minister and arrested after speaking out against the Malaysian prime minister.

another to mention, he is elected via democratic election for his Permatang Pauh seat. but ddid he given space government tv or newspaper to campaign? 10 minutes? 5 minutes? not even 1 second! mind you, government tv is not Umno - party TV!! poor anwar.. he have to move thru out the permatang pauh ...
In malaysia, TV is only a news for the government. no opposition news. opposition only relied on the internet. is that you call democracy mr mothman? do we have a debate for the both opposition leader and government leader in malaysia live in TV? nope. the only time anwar given tv space is in 2008, ...
@mothman so you will rather look forward to all the bare faced thieves and liars that devour our nation's resources while proclaiming ignorance? Since when has Malaysia had free speech? Do we need to remind you of the people that were beaten, shot with tear gas and irritant water while asking for me...
Malaysia is a democratic country, but all of its rulers, without exception, are corrupt. All the looting, thuggery, vote-plundering are done under the garb of democracy. If an election is conducted tomorrow under a truly independent Elections Commission, surely Anwar Ibrahim will be the Prime Mini...
What Anuar Ibrahim is saying is true. Mothman is insulting the intelligence of Turkish people. He thinks the average Turkish people are like typical kampung/village people in Malaysia who only read the ruling party newspaper and listen to the ruling party propaganda. If true democracy exist in Malay...
he represented the non-gentile and non-goyim state of mind (pluralisme) and supporter of rigth of return please check out Wall Street Jurnal
Hi Friend Mothman, Having lived in Malaysia for long time, I do agree with future Leader of Malaysia. There is a controlled democracy but no freedom of speech after speech - no real human rights prevails in Malaysia. People of Malaysia must continue reformasi until full and real freedom of speech a...
No democracy in Malaysia and free speech? I hope the Turkish people and all people around the world do not get cheated by the biggest hypocrite in Malaysia.He was elected via democratic mean. If there is no democracy his Justice Party and two others namely Islamic Party and a chinese based party wou...
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