KUALA LUMPUR, April 6 — The Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department (JAWI) has appealed the High Court’s decision that it acted illegally when it raided a Borders bookstore and seized Irshad Manji’s book “Allah, Liberty and Love” last May.
Borders chief operating officer Yau Su Peng confirmed with The Malaysian Insider today that JAWI had also applied for a stay of the court’s March 22 judicial review decision pending the appeal.
“I’ll reserve comment for now, but obviously we’re very disappointed,” Yau told The Malaysian Insider.
She said she only found out yesterday through Borders counsel Rosli Dahlan that JAWI had appealed the decision, although it had been filed on Tuesday.
Berjaya Books, which owns Borders, had won leave in the civil courts last June for a judicial review against JAWI for the “procedural impropriety” of its actions.
JAWI has claimed that the book is contrary to Muslim syariah law, but in its defence Berjaya Books, which owns Borders, said it had not been aware that it was an offence to sell or distribute Manji’s book at the time of the raid on the bookstore’s Gardens Mall branch in May last year.
The Home Ministry banned the book on May 29 last year, and the ban only came into effect on June 14, three weeks after the raid.
This case has shone a spotlight on the country’s parallel systems of civil law and syariah law.
After the raid and seizure of the book, JAWI had also charged the Gardens branch manager Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz, a Muslim employee, in the syariah court here last year – an act Justice Datuk Zaleha Yusof had also ruled to be unlawful in her decision on March 22.
However, Berjaya successfully obtained an order from the Court of Appeal in August to stay any further action by JAWI, including prosecution proceedings in the syariah court against Nik Raina, pending this judicial review case in the High Court.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, in his affidavit filed on September 5 in the High Court, had stated that JAWI has powers to seize books that are in violation of Islamic law even if they are not banned by the Home Ministry.
The three applicants in this case are Berjaya Books, Borders assistant general manager of operations and merchandising Stephen Fung, and Nik Raina.
The respondents are JAWI, Hishammuddin and the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Islamic religious affairs, Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom.