Friday 25 May 2012


After various incidents in Indonesia,  Allah, Liberty and Love,the latest book by the Canadian writer Irshad Manji continues to stir up controversy in Southeast Asia. The launch of a Malay translation under the title Allah, Kebebasan dan Cinta in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur also drew the attention of Muslim critics who allege it contains positions that are contraductory to the teachings of Islam.

Irshad Manji at the launch of the Malay translation of her latest book

Abu Seman Yusop
Malaysian newspaper The Star reported that the country's home ministry has decided to ban the book 'under Section 7 (Subsection 1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984'. According to Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wira Abu Seman Yusop, because:

  [....] the contents have elements that can confuse the public and contain words that insult Islam.

the Ministry was acting on the advice of The Islamic Development Department (Jakim) which has examined the book. Its Director-General Datuk Othman Mustapha said:

We will be getting copies of the book soon. Once we have gone through and find reasons why it should be banned, we will propose this to the ministry [...]. The decision to ban the book is the prerogative of the Home Ministry. We (Jakim) can only advise them as our analysis found that the book is dangerous for the Muslims
 As a result of this decision, various media outlets also carried news that copies of the book had been confiscated by the authorities: 'Enforcement officers from the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) have confiscated seven copies of the book. Chief senior assistant director of Jawi’s enforcement division, Wan Jaafar Wan Ahmad, said the raid at a bookshop in a well-known shopping complex here was conducted at 8.45pm yesterday':

We have received information that 500 copies of the translated edition of the book have been printed and are available nationwide. We are still tracking them [...]
 In a response to these decisions and actions, publisher ZI Publications questioned their legality. Said owner and director Ezra Zaid (follow on twitter):

 We published this book in the spirit of free inquiry – incidentally, something which Islam itself cherishes – and acting strictly in accordance with our right to free speech and expression as guaranteed by Article 10 (1)(a) of the Federal Constitution.'. While such constitutional rights can be 'regulated', Ezra contended that the Act cited by the authorities is unconstitutional as the Constitution does not permit them to restrict free speech and expression.

Watch this space for further developments.

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