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Friday, Sept 11
Defiant Anwar vows to keep fighting as huge crowd gathers at mosque
by Eileen Ng and Peter Starr

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 11 (AFP) - Malaysia's ousted deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim vowed Friday to keep fighting police allegations against him as he left his leafy suburban neighbourhood for the first time in eight days.

''I'm not afraid,'' Anwar told an estimated 2,000 cheering supporters and curious onlookers who turned up for Friday prayers at the Jamek Kampung Bahru mosque in a working class district in the centre of town.

''Even if they want to use the courts against me, even if they want to use the police against me, I will never surrender. I will continue to fight,'' he said.

Anwar also denounced the unidentified people in high places who he accuses of conspiring to bring him down with unsubstantiated allegations of sexual impropriety, bribery and jeopardising national security.

''You have the power and you have the wealth. But I have the public support and the people have the power,'' he told the cheering crowd.

Anwar said he was forced to speak from a portable loudspeaker after the religious affairs department under Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad ordered that he should not be allowed to use the mosque's sound system.

''What is the use of a mosque if we can't use it to implement justice?'' Anwar asked the crowd, which frequently erupted in cries of ''Allah Akhbar" ("God is Great") and ''Reformasi'' ("Reforms") during his 30-minute address.

''Even though I was sacked eight days ago, the public support for me has not waned but grown,'' he said. ''If one Anwar falls, a thousand more will arise.''

Asked who the real traitor was, some supporters shouted: ''Mahathir!"

'' Anwar, who alleges his family, friends and former collegaues have been harassed by police, also urged his supporters to avoid making ''mistakes'' as his campaign for political reforms gathers momentum.

''Please cooperate. Don't given them any reasons to accuse us of creating unrest. They are waiting for us to make mistakes to hit us harder,'' he warned.

Despite reports that police are seizing tapes and leaflets distributed by supporters to circumvent the largely muzzled local media, stalls outside the mosque were selling cassettes of Anwar speeches. Other supporters handed out pamphlets defending the ousted deputy premier.

Except for a visit to a local mosque on Friday of last week, Anwar has been holed up in his house since September 3 with thousands of supporters and sympathisers gathering each night to hear his fiery speeches calling for reform.

A spokesman said Anwar was expected to travel further afield on Friday evening to deliver a lecture at a university campus just outside the capital, before travelling to his home town in the northern state of Penang.

Malaysia's ruling party has already ordered the country's mosques and universities to ignore Anwar, who was removed from his cabinet posts on Sepetmber 2 and kicked out of the party a day later.

In addition to the initial charges against him, Anwar has been accused of tampering with evidence, abuse of power and sedition.

Anwar says the charges are all part of a high-level conspiracy but Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad merely says he is ''unsuitable'' to hold office and his decision to fire his former protege was based on ''moral'' grounds.

Deputy Home Minister Tajol Rosli Ghazali meanwhile said Friday it was up to police to decide whether nightly speeches at Anwar's home were illegal.

''Let the police make the statements or take the necessary action for if a politician makes comments it will be politicised and we do not wish to worsen the present situation,'' he was quoted as saying by Bernama news agency.

Tajol Rosli also said Anwar would have to apply for a permit if he wanted to hold gatherings. ''Under the law, a gathering of more than four people, except within a hall, needs a police permit and I believe Anwar knows more about this matter,'' the deputy home minister reportedly said.