No doubt much of the world has forgotten, let alone taken note, of the Malaysian government’s decision to ban Irshad Manji’s latest book ‘Allah, Liberty and Love’. Rest assured that Malaysia’s ruling Muslims have not. In a move surely designed to keep bookstores safe for Believers and to keep unauthorized thoughts from entering their vulnerable minds, Malaysian religious police have arrested a bookstore manager for daring to have (or perhaps inadvertently having) Manji’s haram tome on the premises. From “Bookstore manager charged with distributing banned book”, by Maizatul Nazlina, The Star, 19 June 2012.
KUALA LUMPUR: A store manager of a bookshop was charged in a Syariah High Court here Tuesday for distributing a book by Canadian author
Irshad Manji deemed to be against the Islamic Law (Hukum Syarak) and
banned in Malaysia.
Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz, 36, was accused of distributing by way of selling the book entitled, Allah, Liberty and Love (The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom), which was translated into Bahasa Malaysia.
She was alleged to have committed the offence at Borders bookshop, owned by Berjaya Books Sdn Bhd, at level 3, The Gardens Mall in Mid Valley City here, between 8.41am and 9.45pm on May 23 this year.
She faces a RM3,000 fine or a maximum of two years’ jail or both under Section 13(1) of the Syariah Criminal Offences Act (Federal Territories)
1997, if convicted.
RM3,000 is roughly one month’s salary for most Malaysians.
Chief prosecution of the Federal Territory
Ibrahim Deris prosecuted while counsel Rosli Dahlan acted for Nik Raina
before Syarie judge Abdul Walid Abu Hassan.
No plea was recorded.
Rosli applied to the court that the charge would not be read and no
plea would be recorded as there were several issues that needed to be
He added that Nik Raina did not own the bookshop but was only a worker.
Ibrahim said the question whether to read the charge or not was under the court’s jurisdiction and not the prosecution.
Judge Abdul Walid then granted bail at RM500 with one surety, pending mention on Sept 19.
As this is a proceeding in a sharia court, one probably wouldn’t want to speculate on the chances of acquittal for the unfortunate bookshop worker. It goes without saying that those chances are likely none too high, to say the least. Apparently there’s no better way to deal with freedom and Islamophobia than censorship.