G25 mulls legal action on book ban

G25 spokesperson Noor Farida Ariffin says the group will first seek an explanation for the ban from the Home Ministry, but will initiate legal action if the government is not forthcoming with answers. – Screenshot of book cover, July 31, 2017.

G25 is mulling legal action against the banning of its book on role of Islam in Malaysia by the Home Ministry if there is no explanation given on why the book is deemed prejudicial to public order.

Group spokesperson Noor Farida Ariffin said in an interview with business radio station BFM earlier today that the ban did not make any sense as they had never heard of any incident of public disorder or rioting caused by the book.

The book, ‘Breaking the Silence: Voices of Moderation – Islam in a Constitutional Democracy’, which was launched by Razaleigh Hamzah, had been on the market for the last one and a half years, Noor Farida said.

“We are contemplating that route but firstly what we will be doing is to write through our publisher Marshall Cavendish to the Home Ministry to ask them the real reasons for the ban and for them to explain in what way is the book prejudicial to public opinion and public order.

“If this fails, and the ministry maintains the ban, I think we will have no alternative but to challenge the ban in court,” the former ambassador to the Netherlands said when asked whether they will be taking the matter to court.

She said the ministry should prove any resulting public disorder and openly explain to the public, whose public opinion and public interest has been prejudiced or badly hurt by the book.

Farida also added that the book was only a compilation of essays discussing the impact of Islamic bureaucracy in Malaysia and its consistency with the Federal Constitution,

“It’s basically intellectual essays, promoting moderate views on Islam and the practice of Islam in Malaysia,” she said questioning if the ban of the book was politically-inspired and designed to please non-moderates.

“Then really we are losing the battle against extremist and bigots and that is our concern,” she said.

The Attorney-General’s Chambers e-Federal Gazette said the ban was made law on July 27 after Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi authorised the ban on the book on June 14.

Among the 22 writers of the book are constitutional scholar Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi, Just World director Dr Chandra Muzaffar, Universiti Malaya law professor Azmi Sharom, and former Sisters in Islam executive director Ratna Osman.

G25 is a group of 25 former senior civil servants whose goal is to preserve the basic rights of freedom of expression and worship while recognising Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country with Islam as the official religion. – July 31, 2017.

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