Irshad Manji says book ban ‘insult’ to Malaysians, publisher to appeal
KUALA LUMPUR, May 25 — Irshad Manji called the ban on her book “Allah, Liberty & Love” in Malaysia “an insult to a new generation of Malaysians”, while her publisher said today it will appeal the decision as it is unclear if the translated version, “Allah, Kebebasan & Cinta”, is affected.
ZI Publications also said its distributors have begun the process of formally requesting the book to be recalled and taken off bookshelves with the co-operation of bookstores nationwide.
“The Malaysian government’s ban of ‘Allah, Liberty and Love’ is not just a disappointment; it is an insult to a new generation of Malaysians. Censorship treats citizens like children. Censorship denies human beings their free will to think for themselves,” she said in a statement released by ZI Publications.
The author said banning the book would only draw more attention to the very ideas that threaten the government’s fragile ideology. She was recently in Malaysia to promote the Bahasa version of the book but controversy over her visit limited her public appearances.
“The irony is that this book makes the case for faith. It empowers readers to reconcile Allah and freedom, showing that Muslims can be independent thinkers and profound believers in a loving God.
“The Quran asks that we be humble in our interpretations, since only Allah knows the full and final Truth. There is nothing humble about banning ideas. Disagree with them, argue with them, even protest them. But to prohibit them from being expressed is a sure sign of insecurity,” said the author, a Canadian now attached to New York University in the United States.
Meanwhile, ZI Publications owner Ezra Zaid said the company was still waiting for clarification from the authorities about the book ban.
“While this publishing house respectfully disagrees with this decision, or that to ban any other book, we will continuously work within and according to the rule of law — unlike the actions of certain state departments in recent events,” he said in a statement this evening.
He was referring to Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wira Abu Seman’s statement through state news agency Bernama yesterday, saying that the Home Ministry has officially banned “Allah, Liberty & Love” under Section 7 (1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.
Ezra noted that the report made no specific mention of the gazetted date of the ban or whether the “Allah, Kebebasan & Cinta”, the localised edition, is similarly banned.
No update has been posted on the ministry’s website, while attempts to contact the ministry for clarification have proved unsuccessful, he added, saying they want the ministry to explain the report and the details of the ban for all parties involved.
“We have seen a significant segment of Malaysians who have shown their support for this book, as well as the issue of protecting the right to free speech and expression. We should be mindful that the restriction on freedom of expression must be the least restrictive means possible to protect a legitimate interest, and must be carefully tailored to effectively protect that interest,” Ezra added.