Malaysiakini: Publisher of Irshad Manji’s book plans 3 lawsuits

Ezra Zaid

The publisher of a Malay translation of Irshad Manji’s book ‘Allah, Liberty and Love’ vows to file three lawsuits, not just against the Home Ministry’s ban but also against two religious authorities.

Allah, Kebebasan & Cinta

Met by reporters at a public chat session in Kuala Lumpur today, ZI Publications director Ezra Zaid said legal action against the Home Ministry will be lodged within a month.

The publisher’s lawyer Edmund Bon said the intended suit will argue on the grounds that the ban is a breach of free speech and expression, and that both Ezra and Irshad had not been granted their right to be heard before the ban’s imposition.

He said Ezra is also considering separate lawsuits against Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) for raiding his office on Tuesday and Federal Territories Islamic Department (Jawi) for seizing copies of the books earlier.

Ban a North Korean moment

Commenting on the furore, Ezra opined that the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom might not have read Irshad’s books before barring her from conducting any road shows in the country.

“The Malay version (Allah, Liberty and Love) was just released then. He might have relied entirely on the Malaysia Islamic Development Department (Jakim) findings to arrive at that decision,” he said.

The publisher who translated the book into Malay said he had undergone momentarily “a feeling of being in Afghanistan or North Korea”.

“If you want everyone in this country to subscribe to a single ideology, there is an amazing country in the world called North Korean,” he mocked.

“But this is Malaysia. And I believe the Federal Constitution grants me freedom of expression,” he told some 20 attendees in the chat session.

He said the book, first published a year ago, has become an easy target for the authorities as it involved elements of sexuality from a controversial writer and had now been translated into the Malay language.

“Initially it was just a book, but now it became an issue of freedom of speech. And how we react will reflect how valuable Malaysians think that freedom is ,” he said.

Recounting the Jais’ raid and his subsequent arrest, Ezra he was on the verge of spending his night in the detention center on Tuesday.

He said at 4.15pm that day, he was shocked and puzzled to learn that he needed to open an CIMB savings account and produce a passbook in order to pay the RM1800 bail fixed by the judge earlier.

He said while his brothers rushed to that bank’s nearby branch before staff left office at 4.30pm, the registrar’s official was reluctant to provide him with a document to show that he had to open an account as required by the court.

“(The official) said it is already 4.15pm and the bank wouldn’t wait for me. When I told him they would, he looked so sad,” he chuckled.

This article was reproduced from Malaysiakini and can be found here.

*Malaysiakini.tv has uploaded a video of #UndiMsiaChats with Ezra. Click here to watch.


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Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights (MCCHR) is a non-profit based in Kuala Lumpur with the mission of promoting active democratic participation and human rights awareness.

Posted on 4 June 2012. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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3 Responses to Malaysiakini: Publisher of Irshad Manji’s book plans 3 lawsuits

  1. son of muhammad

    You may be educated and intelligent but your intelligence is stupid. To put it simply "Malaysian UMNO Goven" is turning Malaysial into another North Korea. Can you and are you ABLE to understand? Interpreting a clear cut case in black and white differently is just plain stupid.

  2. Ghaflennon

    Ezra Zaid must be out of his mind if he thinks that the freedom of speech and expression is absolute .

    “Initially it was just a book, ….. became an issue of freedom of speech….how we react will reflect how valuable Malaysians think that freedom is ,” he said.

    Yes it is just a book , Manji's book of aspiration is trying to create God by her own image . Her longings to move her readers emotionally to reconcile faith with freedom from the inception of her experience , stories and the unislamic morality . Hope not , her inspiration came by famously seated under the undergrowth-less of an old Oak tree .

    She preaches about reformation and religious reinterpretation in order to discover the Allah of liberty and love instead of Allah the merciful . The book is more inclined toward propagating liberal ideology which negates the doctrine and the fundamental values of Islam . For an example , it is alright for woman to lead the prayers by her pronouncement of equality without fear .

    She raised many uncomfortable questions . No wonder she is a lesbian of a newly born-again Pop-Prophet who thinks that the liberal ideology can make the different about Allah , Freedom and Love . And yet she claims that she is a practice Muslim . She is such a glorious religious misfit many wonder . Can you in your right mind to translate this book for the majority of Muslims in Malaysia just because of the freedom of speech and negate the greater social good ?

    Mr. Lee Kuan Yew' aspirational statements have the state of mind of being similar , when Mr Lee calls for Muslim community to " be less strict on Islamic observances " . In other words , Muslims should be less observance with their Islamic Laws , practices and thinkings . The Muslims are distinct and separate which they discourage integration in the context of Singapore communities for ' progress ' until the surge of Islam came . More to that he said , all religions can be integrated but not Islam while the other communities have easier integrated . No wonder , Mr Lee is trapped in his unconscious prejudice , subtly bias and fear of Islam under the dome of his liberal ideology in his concrete jungle .

    Yet , Edmund Bon , Ezar Zaid's intended to suit the Home Ministry ' that the ban is a breach of free speech and expression '

    Article 10 of the Federal Constitution stipulated and reflected clearly on the argument of the ethnic rivalry and RELIGION . These issues are considered sensitive and taboo in the Malaysian multiethnic environment . Thus it limits the right of free of speech and the individual rights , primarily because to guard political stability and racial harmony . Some sorts of disciplinary orders are imposed for greater good . Within this context , their intention to suit have no cost of claim but a maliciously one .

    The publisher who translated the book into Malay said he had undergone momentarily “a feeling of being in Afghanistan or North Korea”.

    My friend Ezra Zaid , you have no idea " a feeling of being in Afghanistan or North Korea" you may be at the firing squad before you can even think of opening your mouth . Don't get suck into by abusing your freedom of speech and expression which are granted to you . Our constitution is worthy for respect rather than challenge . Even the First Amendment of the United States constitution , some freedom of speech is not protected . Therefore , freedom of speech is not absolute .

  3. Pepper Lim

    Nice!