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.

* 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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