Canadian author and Muslim activist Irshad Manji recently visited Malaysia to promote her new book, Allah, Liberty and Love (!). Apparently Muslims here in Malaysia didn’t feel the love and were not amused, angrily demanding that her book be banned and that she never be allowed to set foot in Malaysia again.
Wait a minute. Isn’t Islam supposed to be completely compatible with moderation, democracy, and so on? Apparently the allegedly mild, modern and moderate Muslims of Malaysia didn’t get the memo. Or the fact that crowds of Malaysian Muslims haven’t openly called for her death (yet) should be considered ‘moderation’.
From “Author accused of insulting Islam”, by Mazwin Nik Anis, The Star, 20 May 2012:
KUALA LUMPUR: Liberal activist Irshad Manji has found herself in a
spot following strong protests against her presence here to promote the
Malay version of her controversial book, Allah, Liberty and Love.
Political parties and non-governmental organisations have opposed her visit to Malaysia, claiming that the writer reported to have openly admitted to being a lesbian has insulted Islam with her writings and attitude.
They have demanded that the authorities ban her work and not allow her to set foot in the country again.
Her views on Islam such as her opinion that a non-Muslim need not convert
to be married to a Muslim have gained the Ugandan-born Canadian author
The Islamic Development Department (Jakim) director-general Datuk Othman Mustapha will review her book, Allah. Kebebasan dan Cinta, saying that although there were complaints that Irshad’s work was insulting to
Islam, the department needed to go through the book first.
“We will be getting copies of the book soon. Once we have gone through and discover reasons that it should be banned, we will propose it to the
Home Ministry,” he said.
The title alone is probably enough of a reason to ban it, as far as the Muslims of the religious police (Jakim) are most likely concerned. The review process is merely a formality.
Despite protests, the Malay version of
Irshad’s book was launched before a small group at the Kuala Lumpur and
Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall yesterday.
Apart from the book launch, the 44-year-old activist’s visit to Malaysia also included
several speaking engagements but her programmes have been cancelled.
Irshad had earlier tweeted that the Borders bookstore had scrapped her event, citing security concerns while Monash University claimed it was pressured by the Selangor Islamic Affairs department. Allah, Kebebasan dan Cinta is published by ZI Publications.
The writer’s first book, The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslims Call for Reform in Her Faith has been banned in Malaysia.
PAS Youth chief Nasruddin Hassan has urged the Government to act fast, adding that while the [Islamic] movement supported freedom of expression, creative or literary works should not be used to promote ideas that were against
religion and human nature.
“We cannot support something that goes against normal human values, let alone religious teachings,” he said.
Umno Youth exco member Hishamudin Yahya said the movement also called on the book to be banned, adding that Irshad should not be allowed to come to Malaysia again.
Umno is Muslim-led and is the ruling party, while the Muslim-led PAS is nominally in the opposition. Yet they both shockingly agree that freedom of expression is not compatible with Islamic ‘religious teachings’. Does that mean that Umno and PAS are Islamophobic?