Seizure of lesbian author’s books illegal, says Malaysian publisher

ZI publications is considering all legal options after the Malaysian authorities banned both the English and the Malay versions of Irshad Maji’s new book

Seizure of lesbian author’s books illegal, says Malaysian publisher
25 May 2012

Publisher ZI Publications says the official confiscation of Canadian author Irshad Manji’s books on Islam is illegal and is looking at all legal options.

The Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department (JAWI) seized copies of the Malay version of ‘Allah, Liberty & Love’ by the Ugandan-born writer and its original English version at a bookstore in Kuala Lumpar Wednesday evening (23 May), according to the local media.

‘The English version of Irshad Manji’s book, Allah, Liberty & Love, has been published since June 2011 and there has been no issue taken with the book… until we published a Malay translation of the book (Allah, Kebebasan & Cinta),’ ZI director and owner Ezra Zaid said in a statement yesterday.

‘Either way, 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.

JAWI officers referred during the raid to section 13 of the Syariah Criminal Offences Act that makes it an offence to publish and distribute any material that goes against Islamic laws, but allows confiscation only if a specific court order is given.

The book was said to have contradicted the Quran and insulted Islam, by promoting mixed marriages between Muslims and Non-Muslims, as well as defending secularism, among others.

But Ezra said ZI has never been informed that the book is at odds with any religious laws and is considering all legal options, including a judicial review against JAWI’s actions and a claim for damages.

JAWI has vowed to monitor book stores to prevent them from distributing both versions of the book without giving any notice. Manji’s first book had also been banned three years ago.

In a related development, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Seri Jamil Khir Baharom said on Wednesday the government faces difficulty in restricting the entry of LGBT proponents including Manji into the country, as ‘certain individuals’ are masterminding a conspiracy to ‘import’ relevant problems, reported the Malaysian Insider.

Manji caused quite a stir during her visit to Malaysia last week to promote ‘Allah Liberty & Love’. Hardline Islamic protester also stormed her book launch in Jakarta earlier this month, when she had to be escorted out under a heavy guard.

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