Anwar Ibrahim’s Islamic Banking Agenda

By Family Security Matters | by Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld
Wednesday, December 15th, 2010 @ 6:24AM

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On her recent visit to Malaysia, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lauded Malaysia’s “creative approach” to Islamic banking. She also intervened on behalf of Malaysia’s “de-facto” opposition Islamic Party leader, Anwar Ibrahim, on trial for sodomy and corruption. Apparently recent Wikileaks State Department released cables with information alleging Anwar’s careless sexual behavior, did not reach the Secretary. However, she should have been better informed of Malaysia’s Islamic banking agenda and Anwar’s role in promoting it.

Islamic banking, the Muslim Brotherhood’s invention to infiltrate and co-opt Western economy, was slow to catch on until 1993 when Anwar Ibrahim—then Malaysia’s finance minister—helped to introduce the newly invented “Islamic Banking windows” into conventional banks. This measure, which familiarized clientele with and built confidence in the unknown Islamic banking system, proved central to the development of the global Islamic finance industry. The establishment of an independent “Islamic economy” is an important factor in the Muslim Brotherhood agenda. Consequently, the development of Islamic banks is viewed as critical to facilitating the establishment of a global Islamic state.

The first successful Islamic banking experiment was the Mit Ghamr Savings Bank in Egypt, in 1963. The Egyptian government, which subsidized the bank, shut it down in 1968 after Muslim Brotherhood-led demonstrations swamped the country.

Islamic banking was introduced in Malaysia in 1963, with the establishment of Tabung Haji (Pilgrim’s Fund), a savings institution created to help Muslims save towards their pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj). But the Islamization of Malaysia began in earnest in 1981, when Mahathir Mohamad became Prime Minister. He immediately established the Islamic Consultative Body (ICB) to oversee the implementation of national development programs according to Islamic values.

Mahathir’s ambition to turn Malaysia into a “model Muslim nation” seemed to convince Anwar, then president of the Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement (ABIM), to join the government. Soon he became a major proponent of the Islamic Banking Act (IBA), and the establishment of Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad (BIMB), in 1983. But the Malaysians were slow to trust a newly invented banking system.To remedy the situation, Anwar’s Finance Ministry issued regulations facilitating the establishment of “Islamic Banking Windows” into the conventional Western banks that operated in Malaysia, in 1993. This move legitimized Islamic banking and helped the development of independent Islamic banks in Malaysia and elsewhere.

Anwar often sprinkles his presentations with Arabic phrases from the Quran and other Islamic books while touting the socio-political aspects of Shari’a banking. He claims that Islamic banking and economics, based on “maqasid al-shariah,” i.e., “the objectives of Islamic law,” could help create wealth and eradicate poverty.

Anwar’s talks of solving poverty and spreading justice and democracy seem to distract his Western supporters from his commitment to replace Western political, social and economic principles with Islamic laws. However, throughout his political career, Anwar has openly rejected Western values while promoting Islam. In his 1983 speech on “Development and changing political ideas,” at the 50th Anniversary Conference of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, Anwar criticized the “wholesale imitation of Western values and practices” in Malaysia. These should be replaced, he argued, with Islam, which “provides an ideological alternative to the dominant paradigm.”

More recently, speaking at Australian National University, on November 15, 2010, Anwar declared: “Democracy is … presumed [in part] to be defined by the conditions of the free market. And this is where the founding fathers of the French Revolution with their clarion call for liberty, equality, and fraternity missed the mark … this is because a free market is based on competition, and competition, being a zero-sum game, has no truck with equality. On the contrary, free markets engender inequality … Islam enjoins that while society may pursue commerce to the fullest, justice and fairness must remain the chief criterion … to establish a humane economy.” Anwar posted this speech, along with most of his others, on his website.

Anwar’s advocacy of “Islamic democracy,” ostensibly meant to fight for social justice and freedom of religion makes him popular with Westerns desperately seeking moderate Muslim leaders. However, even a cursory review of Anwar’s speeches on democracy and Islamic finance over the decades show that Anwar is a committed Islamist in the mold of Sayyid Qutb.

Anwar is the darling “moderate Muslim” to his many admirers in the U.S. and the West. Indeed, the list of prominent U.S. admirers of Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia’s former Deputy Prime Minister, is impressive. In addition to Hillary Clinton’s intervention on his behalf, letters of support from Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, and former President of the World Bank James Wolfensohn, and others praise his leadership and fight “for international justice, peace and development.”

Strangely, these prominent figures fail to notice that Anwar’s fight is not for democracy, justice, and peace according to Western principles. Instead, his call is for democratization “on the platform of Islam,” and for replacing the competitive Western principles, with more “just” Islamic system.

With so much readily available information on Anwar’s advocacy of Islamic supremacy and his ties to sponsors of violence against the West, it is disconcerting that his Western supporters still consider Anwar a hero, and Islamic banking a solution to Western economic mishaps. Contributing Editor Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld is the Director of the New York-based American Center for Democracy. She is an expert on terrorism and corruption-related topics such as terror financing and narco-terrorism. She had helped to change New York state law when the Libel Terrorism Protection Act (pdf) was passed. Similar laws have been passed in other U.S. states, and a federal law known as the SPEECH ACT which is due to be signed follows the same principle – that First Amendment guarantees should protect authors and publishers against foreign libel judgments from countries with poor free speech protections.

Categories: Financial Jihad, Islamic Banking, Middle East Conflicts, Muslim Brotherhood

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