Putrajaya reconsiders ban on G25’s book advocating moderate Islam

G25’s lawyer Surendra Ananth says the Pakatan Harapan government is considering whether to continue a ban on the book ‘Silence: Voices of Moderation ― Islam in a Constitutional Democracy’. — Picture by Zuraneeza Zulkifli
G25’s lawyer Surendra Ananth says the Pakatan Harapan government is considering whether to continue a ban on the book ‘Silence: Voices of Moderation ― Islam in a Constitutional Democracy’. — Picture by Zuraneeza Zulkifli

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 2 ― The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government is considering whether to continue a ban on a book on Islam by pro-moderation group G25 instituted by the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) administration, G25’s lawyer said today.

Surendra Ananth told reporters that his clients, who filed an application for judicial review of the ban on Silence: Voices of Moderation ― Islam in a Constitutional Democracy, made a representation last September for the new government to reconsider the ban, in light of PH’s stance on freedom of expression.

“So the senior federal counsel told the court the government will take the representation into consideration and will need some time. The court has fixed 31st January as new hearing date at 2.30pm,” said Surendra.

The ban which was first gazetted in July 2017 by then Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is still in effect.

The G25 members who filed for a judicial review against the ban were Datuk Noor Farida Mohd Ariffin, Datuk Zainudden Abdul Bahari, Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim, Datuk Latifah Osman Merican and Dr Asma Abdullah.

In a previous supporting affidavit, Mohd Sheriff said the book which was published in December 2015 by Singapore publisher Marshall Cavendish contained the writings of 22 leading academics, lawyers and social activists, including himself and Asma.

The book aimed to promote discussions and dialogue on a moderate practice of Islam and was to be part of G25's consultative process to address the excessive politicisation of religion in Malaysia.

Under the BN government, the Home Ministry banned the book on June 14, 2017. The ban was gazetted on July 27, 2017.