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Sunday, Sept 13
Thousands hail Anwar at mosque
South China Morning Post

KUALA LUMPUR: To cries of "down with Mahathir", sacked deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim addressed several thousand cheering supporters outside a mosque in the heart of the capital yesterday.

Mr Anwar, under threat of arrest, ventured from his neighbourhood for the first time since his dismissal last week and prayed in a packed mosque.

He then took a microphone and, his voice hoarse after a week of speeches to supporters, spoke for about 20 minutes to the crowd which filled the mosque and spilled outside.

"The police are still investigating why I have been sacked and shamed," Mr Anwar said. "They have no proof, so they are still investigating."

Two policemen sat in a car nearby and one was stationed inside the mosque, but there was no intervention from them.

However, a scheduled speech by Mr Anwar last night outside the capital was cancelled at the last minute.

The address at the home in Bangi of Islamic scholar Haron Din - the first on Mr Anwar's planned nationwide tour to promote political reforms - was apparently cancelled because organisers lacked a police permit for a public gathering.

Deputy Home Minister Tajol Rosli Ghazali said earlier that Mr Anwar would have to apply for a permit if he wanted to hold gatherings.

Thousands of people began leaving Bangi as others continued to arrive in the university town.

The crowd was estimated at between 20,000 and 30,000, compared with 100,000 at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games nearby attended by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Earlier, the crowd at the mosque, which had gathered for congregational prayers, intermittently interrupted Mr Anwar's remarks, shouting "reformasi" (reform), "long live Anwar" and "down with Mahathir".

Dr Mahathir dismissed Mr Anwar as deputy prime minister and finance minister on September 2.

While he has given no detailed explanation for the sacking, Dr Mahathir has said his former heir-apparent was morally unfit to serve.

Mr Anwar is under investigation over allegations of sexual misconduct, treason and other crimes which he denies. The former cabinet minister has said he is a victim of a high-level conspiracy by political opponents.

Dr Mahathir said on Thursday that police would indict Mr Anwar once they had gathered sufficient evidence, and the federal police chief was quoted as saying the investigation was nearing completion.