Judges slam Islamic authority for premature raid on Borders

The JAWI officers seized Canadian author Irshad Manji's book Allah, Liberty and Love and its Bahasa Malaysia translation in May 2012 even though it had not been banned at the time. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
The JAWI officers seized Canadian author Irshad Manji's book Allah, Liberty and Love and its Bahasa Malaysia translation in May 2012 even though it had not been banned at the time. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 22 — A panel of judges at the Court of Appeal today lambasted an Islamic authority for raiding a bookstore for a book that only got banned weeks later, with one judge labelling the action as self-indulgent.

In a high profile case, the Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department (JAWI) prematurely raided a branch of Borders bookstore in May 2012 for Irshad Manji’s “Allah, Liberty and Love”, a book banned by the Home Ministry three weeks later.

The Islamic authority is appealing a high court decision in March, which found its actions illegal and procedurally improper, along with the home and Islamic affairs ministers.

“Remember the basic principle of law, you are not to be found guilty of something that was not there,” Justice Datuk Umi Kalthum Abdul Majid told the lawyer for the Islamic authority, Noor Hisham Ismail, who argued that Shariah laws allow Islamic enforcers to act even before any fatwa had been issued.

“Who is to know except the devil? In fact, the devil doesn’t know the people’s mind.

“The enforcement officers can’t syiok sendiri (be self-indulgent),” she added.

Rosli Dahlan, the lawyer representing the bookstore and two employees, said the English version of the book had been available in bookstores long before the raid and that the book remains available on the Internet.

That prompted judge Umi Kalthum to ask if computers must be confiscated and access to the Internet barred.

“Is that the way we are going?” she said.

Today marks the end of the appeal. No date has been set for the verdict.

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