Malaysia

Putrajaya: Events with lesbian Muslim writer Manji banned

By Shannon Teoh
May 19, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 — The government will not allow any events involving Irshad Manji, a lesbian writer who has stirred up controversy during her visit here to promote her book on Islam, Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom said this morning.

The Islamic affairs minister has insisted that the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) and home ministry will not allow any events involving the Ugandan-born Canadian author, saying her "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender" (LGBT) ideology contradicts the laws of the Malaysia.

The minister in the prime minister's department (picture) cited Article 3(1) of the Constitution which makes Islam the official religion and other Acts of Parliament as well as state Islamic enactments.

But although the author who is here to promote her book "Allah, Liberty and Love," has cancelled all her other public events, she is scheduled to speak at 2pm in Kuala Lumpur, where there are no such state enactments.

"The government views seriously this ideology brought by Irshad Manji and its implications for Muslims here," the senator was quoted by Bernama as saying in Gurun, Kedah.

But Bar Council constitutional law committee chairman Syahredzan Johan told The Malaysian Insider there are no laws prohibiting an individual from speaking about LGBT activities.

"There are laws against homosexual acts but not against being a homosexual or barring a homosexual from speaking about it. Not even in the state Islamic enactments. So I don't know what authorities or police can do.

"This use of Article 3(1), if interpreted that way, means you should also ban gambling or other activities against Islam, not just homosexuality," he said.

Manji, whose other book “The Trouble With Islam Today” has been banned in Malaysia, announced in Thursday she had cancelled all her promotional activities but "I am committed to holding one public discussion in Kuala Lumpur" before leaving.

The 48-year-old said on micro-blogging site Twitter Borders bookstore and Monash University cancelled her events citing security concerns and pressure from the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) respectively.

"We know that many Malaysians want to hear about Muslim reform and moral courage because my Twitter feed has received nothing but support from Malaysians since I announced my arrival in KL yesterday," she said.