The ban on a book published by Sisters in Islam (SIS) is illegal, irrational, and inconsistent with the Federal Constitution, the Malaysian High Court heard.
SIS also contended that then Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, who ordered the ban, had no authority to do so.
In their submissions, counsel for SIS Malik Imtiaz Sarwar and K. Shanmuga told Justice Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof that under the constitutional framework, Islam was a state matter and as such, fell exclusively within the purview of the state governments.
The minister does not have the requisite legal competence and/or authority to arrive at conclusions on matters pertaining to Islam. It would be necessary for the state religious authorities to have firstly concluded on the matter (where it pertains to
Islam) before the minister could exercise his discretion, Malik Imtiaz said at the first day of hearing yesterday, adding that these pre-conditions were not met.
On Dec 15 last year, SIS Forum (Malaysia) had applied for leave for a judicial review of an order banning the 215-page book entitled Muslim Women and the Challenges of Islamic Extremism. It is a compilation of essays based on research by renowned
international scholars and activists, and the book was edited by sociologist Prof Noraini Othman of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia's Institute of Malaysia and International Studies.
The ministry had banned the book under Section 7 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 on grounds that it was 'prejudicial to public order' .
Free speech advocates have been rejoicing after a Malaysian court quashed a government ban on a book about the challenges facing Muslim women.
We were hoping, we were praying that this would mark a good day for all Malaysians, said Professor Norani Othman, the editor of the banned book, Muslim Women and the Challenges of Islamic Extremism , a collection of essays
by international scholars. It's a good day for academic freedom.
In July 2008, the Ministry of Home Affairs banned the book, published in 2005 by Sisters in Islam, a Malaysian nongovernmental organization, on the grounds that it was prejudicial to public order and that it could confuse Muslims, particularly
Sisters in Islam filed a judicial review in the Kuala Lumpur High Court in December 2008 on the basis that the ban was unconstitutional because it infringed upon freedom of speech and religion and gender equality.
Justice Mohamad Ariff Yusof said that he had failed to find that the facts of the case supported the decision to ban the book on the grounds that it could disrupt public order: There are just seven pages of text which are objected to out of
215 pages in the book, he said. The book itself was in circulation for over two years in Malaysia before the minister decided to ban it.
He ordered the government to pay court costs incurred by Sisters in Islam.
Noor Hisham Ismail, the senior federal counsel who represented the ministry, said he could not yet say whether the government would appeal the decision.
Professor Norani, the book's editor and a sociologist at the National University of Malaysia, said she was overjoyed by the decision and hoped that it would encourage others to produce books that questioned the politicization of Islam.
Muslims have been advised to stay away from book, Muslim Women and The Challenge of Islamic Extremism . It can create doubt and disharmony among the people in the country, according to the Malaysian Islamic Development Department
Its director general, Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz Wan Mohamad said the contents of the book contravened the Islamic Publication Materials Censorship Guidelines issued by Jakim in 1996.
Several obvious errors were found (in the book), he said in a statement today. He said among others, the book stated that Islamic family laws and Syariah criminal laws were promoting prejudice and discrimination against women.
The book also questioned the fatwa institution and the ban on non-Islamic scholars from discussing Islamic issues. It also promoted the re-interpretation of the verses in the Quran, especially those on gender bias, he said.
Malaysia's Home Ministry has banned author Kim Quek's book The March To Putrajaya- Malaysia's New Era Is At Hand under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 as
it may incite public hatred and anger .
The Malaysian Insider reported that the Home Ministry Secretary General Mahmood Adam said that the book was banned because of its baseless accusations against national leaders, among others. He also went on to add that the printing, importing,
publishing, reprint, sell, distribute or offer to sell or in possession of such books is an offence punishable under the law .
Kim Quek has subsequently released a press statement denying that the book is not suitable for the public.
Throughout my book, one consistent theme is my appeal to everyone to be faithful and to defend the Constitution. Even on the much politicized Article 153, which has been deliberately and dishonestly misinterpreted to carry out all
sorts of racist agenda and therefore has attracted much misgivings, I have only words of praise for it.
I welcome any criticism and open dialogue over any part of my book, as it is through honest discourse that we will bring benefit to the nation.
As for the Ministry's ban over my book, I reserve my right to take the necessary legal recourse to protect my constitutional rights.
Malaysian officials have ordered book shops to stop selling a sex education book by British author Peter Mayle.
Where did I come from? is banned from sale pending a review, a Home Ministry statement seen by the BBC said. It will be banned completely if it is if it is proven to contain elements harmful to public morals and corrupt people's minds ,
said the statement from a senior official on Tuesday.
The book's cover states it is the facts of life without any nonsense . The illustrated book aims to help parents explain to children such topics as sex, conception and birth.
Deputy secretary for safety, Abdul Rahim Mohamad Radzi, said in the statement: The ministry has obtained the co-operation of book sellers around the country to immediately stop sales until the review is completed and the decision is made.
In an escalating campaign of harassment, Malaysian authorities seized copies of a new volume of political cartoons
by Zulkiflee Awar Ulhaque, also known as Zunar. In the past three weeks, police have confiscated three separate volumes of Zunar's cartoons and detained him for four days on accusations of sedition in connection with critical posts he wrote on social
Police seized approximately 200 copies of Zunar's new book, ROS in Kangkong Land , while they were in transit to a launch event scheduled to occur in Petaling Jaya city, according to news reports.
The book lampoons Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, and also touches on the trial of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim who stands accused of sodomy.
Shawn Crispin, CPJ's senior Southeast Asia representative explained:
The ongoing harassment and legal threats against cartoonist Zunar make a mockery of Malaysia's democracy. Prime Minister Najib Razak should use his authority to stop the harassment of Zunar and the bogus sedition investigation against him and instead
return his attention to reforming outdated laws like the Sedition Act that are too often abused to threaten and punish journalists.
Five publications have been banned by the Malaysian Government as it was claimed that the books contain elements which
could confuse easily confused muslims and cause moral harm.
In fact the government was trying silence criticism over the persecution of young bloggers who made a minor joke about bacon.
The government book censors claimed that Alvin Tan's Sex, Pork, And Persecution: How's One Young Man's Fight Against Conformity Led to Imprisonment and Vilification was banned as it was likely to be prejudicial to morality as it contained
The publication of Grey (Fifty Shades of Grey As Told By Christian) was also banned for being supposedly prejudicial to morality as it contained pornographic elements.
Three other books were also banned but these are not internationally known:
Orang Ngomong Anjing Gong Gong was banned for supposedly being detrimental to public order, security and morality as it contained elements against the Malaysian norms and moral ethics.
Ajaran Makrifat Syekh Siti Jenar and Israk Mikraj: Tinjauan Saintifik Di Sebalik Kontroversi were banned as they were found to be prejudicial to public order and contained elements which could confuse and harm the faith of Muslims.
It is an offence under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 for anyone to print, import, produce, reproduce, publish, sell, issue, circulate, offer for sale and distribution, as well as to possess such banned publications. Those convicted
of the offence can be sentenced to a jail term of up to three years and a fine not exceeding RM20,000 or both.