Today, I had the great privilege of introducing Anwar Ibrahim at the De La Salle Colloquim on Islam, Politics, and Peace. Here is the text of my introduction –
INTRODUCTION OF ANWAR IBRAHIM
It started with a black eye. Ten years ago, a man had just been named as “Asian of the Year,” a former deputy Prime Minister, was now under arrest, beaten and bruised, charged for sodomy and corruption, and stripped of trappings of power; in short, a man who should have been humiliated and dejected. But instead of humiliation the world saw a man full of dignity and defiance. In an instant, Anwar Ibrahim became an icon for all people who opposed oppression and tyranny and who were willing to fight for reformasi, for social and economic reforms, through peaceful means.
Then came 9-11 and it was the Islamic world that got a black eye, this time primarily self-inflicted, particularly caused by those with an anachronistic view of Islam and who had forgotten that the etymology of term “Islam” itself was deeply rooted in the Arabic term “salaam” or peace. From that time, many have viewed Muslims with, at its mildest, distrust and at its harshest, with genuine hatred.
Anwar Ibrahim, through his work and his advocacies, once again defies the enemies of Islam both from within and from without. He is the very counter-argument to those who, like Bin Laden, refuse to take the bold step of bringing the Islamic faith into the future. He is the prototype of the modern Muslim: one who retains his Islamic faith and identity but is unafraid to relate with, to dialogue with, and to learn from the modern world.
In the Philippines, the Abu Sayyaf has done much to blacken the image of Filipino Muslims who already have to face the historic marginalization and discrimination. It is an undisputed fact, that in the Philippines, the highest levels of poverty and lowest levels of literacy are both found in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao or the ARMM.
Filipino Muslims – and our Chrisian brothers – turn to you, our speaker, Anwar Ibrahim as a source of inspiration, that we too shall defy and overcome, with dignity, the tyranny of poverty and oppression that grips not only the ARMM but has become the norm throughout this country because of the corrupt GMA administration.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my singular honor to welcome our guest speaker, Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim.