PETALING JAYA, Feb 22 — Mohd Ezra Mohd Zaid today finally sighted the books that the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) seized six year ago from his publishing company ZI Publications Sdn Bhd.
At the first day of his trial at the Shariah courts, Ezra managed to catch a glimpse of the 180 copies of the book published by his firm in May 2012.
“Today was the first time I saw those books that got seized six years ago, so when the books came in, I kind of got a little excited actually because I haven’t seen these books in like six years,” he told Malay Mail, regarding the books that were carted into the Shariah court as evidence.
“When the ban was rescinded, I think most of the books were sold then, so these are the only ones left, I think,” he said when met after the court hearing.
Ezra is facing a charge under Section 16(1)(a) of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Selangor) Enactment 1995 as the director and main shareholder of ZI Publications for allegedly publishing the Bahasa Malaysia version of Irshad Manji’s book with the title “Allah, Kebebasan dan Cinta” and with contents purportedly contrary to Islamic law in terms of faith.
The offence which Ezra is charged with is punishable by a maximum RM3,000 fine or two-year jail or both.
The Shariah judge today decided to start the trial, even as Ezra is awaiting a decision from the civil courts on his lawsuit challenging his Shariah prosecution.
“In an ideal scenario, you would like to see some harmony between the two court systems so that the civil court will be allowed to get its decision out first before we proceed with anything here in the Shariah court,” Ezra said.
He noted that he was slightly “numb” nowadays and described today as “just a continuation of the entire saga” that has stretched over six years.
With the Kuala Lumpur High Court set to deliver next Wednesday its decision on the lawsuit challenging Ezra’s Shariah prosecution, he hoped that the civil court ruling will be taken into account by the Shariah courts as the trial proceeds.
“I’m ready to face the trial and whatever the consequences may be, and I just hope that the courts will take note of what’s happening in both jurisdictions so everyone is on the same page to decide on issues of process, on issues of authority and jurisdiction,” he said.
As for a separate lawsuit by ZI Publications where both the High Court and Court of Appeal had quashed the government’s ban of the Allah, Kebebasan dan Cinta book, the Federal Court had allowed the government leave for appeal.
When contacted today, Ezra’s lawyer Farhan Haziq Mohamed confirmed to Malay Mail that the Federal Court has not fixed a hearing date for this appeal.