This week's In The News covers the political dissension and civil protest in Malaysia. The nine resources discussed provide background information, news, analysis, and commentary. On September 2, an ongoing dispute over conflicting economic recovery policies impelled Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to oust Anwar Ibrahim, the acting Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister. The authoritarian Mahathir, who has ruled Malaysia for the past 17 years, accused Anwar of sedition and sexual misconduct to justify the coup. In response to his dismissal, Anwar began a public campaign to expose the economic policies endorsed by Mahathir. Anwar supports open international markets and believes that Mr. Mahathir's restrictive, nationalistic policies foster corruption and limit individual freedoms in Malaysia. The culmination of Anwar's campaign of reform occurred in Kuala Lumpur on September 20 when he was arrested after leading 35,000 supporters in a march on central square, demanding the resignation of Mahathir. Police also arrested eleven of Anwar's supporters, including friends and family. The arrests incited a week-long series of violent political protests against Mahathir that led to a spate of civilian arrests. Last week after ten days of detention, Anwar appeared for his arraignment wearing a neck brace, revealed several bruises, and claimed that he had been beaten severely while in police custody. In court, he pleaded his innocence to five counts of corruption and five counts of sodomy. His case will go to trial on November 2. Monitoring the situation closely, world leaders and human rights organizations have condemned the ruthless actions of Mahathir's regime and question the legality of Malaysia's Internal Security Act. The act permits the police to arrest anyone without a warrant, and to detain indefinitely any person who acts, or is likely to act, in "any manner prejudicial to the security of Malaysia."
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