Monday, September 4, 2000
Demonstrations Follow Mahathir To Chicago
by Ayub Khan
CHICAGO (Islam Online) - A peaceful impromptu
demonstration was held by the Free Anwar Campaign in
front of the Raddison hotel in Rosemont, Illinois,
outside of Chicago, where Malaysian Prime Minister
Mahathir Mohammad spoke at a gathering of Malaysian
A little over a dozen protesters held placards and
banners and demanded the immediate release of the
deposed and jailed former deputy Prime Minister Anwar
The demonstrators shouted slogans like "Hey, Hey! Ho!
Ho! Mahathir got to go", "Go back Mahthir",
"Reformasi" etc. The slogans got louder as Mahathir's
cavalcade, including police cars, approached the
Mahathir and his wife were immediately whisked away by
the security personnel, and this correspondent was
able to catch only a glimpse of the two.
Dr. Abdul Malik Mujahid, an American Muslim activist
who was a member of the demonstration said "Anwar has
been wronged... we as Muslims must stand for justice
and support his rights. I hope Mahathir will keep
remembering and listening to this message and will
realize that he has committed a mistake and ask for
forgiveness from Anwar and his family."
He said that although the number of protesters present
was small, they stand for justice and represent
thousands of other people. He stated that here, in the
U.S., Mahathir has no Malaysian police or secret
agencies that he can send out to the demonstrators.
Jeff, a white American, who was holding a sign saying
"No Justice in Malaysia", when asked as to why he is
supporting this demonstration said, " I believe in
freedom for all people, and how can you be free as in
the case of Anwar when there are charges trumped up
against you."
Many passing motorists honked as they drove by in
support of the demonstrators.
Mahathir Mohammad, whose initial invitation to attend
the Islamic Society of North America's (ISNA)
convention was withdrawn, was awarded a Life Time
Achievement Award by the American finance house,
Lariba, in recognition of his role in resolving the
financial crisis in Malaysia.
The function was held at the Islamic Cultural Center
of Greater Chicago in Northbrook, Illinois on Friday
Prof. Khairy Tourk of the Illinois Institute of
Technology paid glowing tributes to Dr. Mahathir and
said that he has restored the dignity and self-respect
of all developing countries. "And for that, we owe you
a debt of gratitude," he said.
In accepting the award, Mahathir stated that it was
the Malaysian people who truly deserved the award. "It
was [with] the understanding and full co-operation of
the vast majority of Malaysians that we succeeded in
defending our economy against the deliberate attempts
by certain forces to destroy it."
He called for a "true jihad" so that Muslims will be
freed from oppression and can take their place as
successful members of a regenerated Muslim
civilization. He said the holy war is a struggle to
achieve Muslim unity and acquisition of Muslim
statecraft, knowledge and skills - far different from
that of today's so-called fundamentalists who are
"only interested in the trappings of Islam and not the
true fundamentals."
Meanwhile, at the Islamic Society of North America's
annual convention, many attendees condemned Mahathir's
actions against Anwar and said that even though they
admired and supported Mahthir on many issues in the
past (e.g. his stand of speaking out against the
dominance of the West), they now think that he has
committed a major blunder and should try to rectify it
before it is too late, by releasing Anwar immediately.
A majority of the attendees believed in Anwar's
Anwar Ibrahim, in a hand written letter from the jail
to the President and General Secretary of ISNA said,
"This is a short personal note to express my heartfelt
thanks and appreciation for the support and sympathy,
which you and ISNA have shown me, Aziza (wife) and
family. ... I pray for the continual success of your
noble endeavors in furthering the cause of Islam."