Malaysia: Book banned after pressure from religious group

7 June 2012

Human rights organisations and journalist unions criticise the Malaysian government’s decision to ban a book on liberal Islam by the Canadian Muslim activist Irshad Manji.

On 29 May 2012, Malaysian Home Affairs Minister Hishammuddin Hussein banned Irshad Manji’s new book ‘Allah, Liberty and Love’, saying it was “prejudicial to morality and public order.”

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wira Abu Seman said the ministry had decided to ban the book under Section 7 (Subsection 1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 as it contravenes teachings of the Al-Quran and Hadith.


Book seized
On 23 May 2012, a raid was conducted at a bookshop in a well-known shopping complex in Kuala Lumpur to seize the book which had been translated into the Malay language.

“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,” Chief Senior Assistant Director of Jawi’s Enforcement Division, Wan Jaafar Wan Ahmad, was quoted as saying.

A few days later, 20 officers raided the offices of the Malay language publisher, ZI Publications, seized the book, and arrested ZI’s owner Ezra Zaid, reported Human Rights Watch.


‘Old-fashioned state repression’
“Malaysian authorities say they are protecting morality by banning Manji’s book, but this is just old-fashioned state repression,” stated Human Rights Watch.

Irshad Manji is known as a liberal Muslim activist who openly supports Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) lifestyles.

In July 2009, her previous book which became an international bestseller, entitled ‘The Trouble With Islam Today’, was also banned in Malaysia.


Book launch interrupted in Indonesia

During a world tour to promote her new book, Irshad Manji came to Indonesia’s capital Jakarta to attend a launch event for ‘Allah, Liberty and Love’ at the Salihara Cultural Centre in Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta, but police cut her talk short after just 15 minutes, due to pressure from the Islamic Defenders Front. Hundreds of members and supporters of the religious group had gathered at the centre and demanded an end to the event.

Manji was escorted out of Salihara Cultural Centre under heavy police guard.

Read more:

IFEX – 6 June 2012:
Irshad Manji’s new book banned, among others

IFEX – 4 June 2012:
Book banning frenzy must end, say civil society organisations

Jakarta Globe – 5 May 2012:
Indonesian Hardline Group Urges Govt to Deport Liberal Canadian Muslim Activist

Irshad Manji’s blog and official website:
Allah, Liberty and Love
About the ban
The publisher’s statement
Irshad Manji’s statement [PDF]

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