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‘We were not notified of ban on Irshad’s books’

June 20, 2012

Berjaya Books criticises Jawi for their unprofessional conduct during a raid on its retail chain, Borders, on May 23.

PETALING JAYA: Berjaya Books Sdn Bhd, which operates retail chain, Borders, has said that it was not informed by the Federal Territories Religious Department (Jawi) of any edict from the National Fatwa Council banning Irshad Manji’s books.

“There was also no fatwa or any form of notification issued by Jawi to Borders. There was no way for Borders to know that Jawi considered Irshad Manji’s books to be objectionable,” said Berjaya Books’ chief operations officer Yau Su Peng.

“We understand that the Home Ministry only gazetted the banning of the Irshad Manji’s books on May 29, 2012, and that fact was published on June 14, 2012. Berjaya Books Sdn Bhd has at all times co-operated with the authorities and we have instructed out employees, both Muslim and non Muslim, to assist Jawi in its investigations.”

Yau added that Berjaya Books has also yet to receive a response from Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and Minister in Prime Minister’s Department, Jamil Khir Baharom to a letter regarding the raid by Jawi on its Borders’ outlet in Garden’s Mall, Mid Valley on May 23.

Yau said this in response to a charge brought by Jawi on Borders store manager Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz at the Kuala Lumpur Syariah Court yesterday under Section 13(1) of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997 for distributing or selling Irshad Manji’s book ‘Allah, Liberty and Love’.

If convicted Nik Raina faces a RM3,000 fine or a maximum of two years’ jail or both.

Yau also said that Berjaya Books Sdn Bhd is fully supporting Nik Raina. “The management of Berjaya Books Sdn Bhd fully supports our employee Nik Raina, who was simply performing her duties.

“As a store manager, Nik Raina does not have any influence or control over the selection of books in Borders,” said Yau, addding that the time of the raid by Jawi, the Home Ministry had not declared a ban on the book.

Hishammuddin banned ‘Allah, Liberty and Love’ on May 29 because it was “prejudicial to morality and public order”. The Islamic Development Department (Jakim) also issued a ban on the book on the same day.

Yau accused Jawi officers of not acting in a professional manner even though Nik Raina had given her full cooperation and complied with Jawi’s directive.

“She was treated roughly by Jawi personnel and was issued an arrest warrant. Jawi also refused to allow legal representation for Nik Raina. We view this as outright victimisation and violation of the constitutional and legal rights of our employees,” said Yau.

Yau said that on the May 24, Jawi interrogated a Muslim female employee of Borders at its Bangsar Village 2 outlet and accused her of lying when she had told them that Irshad’s books has been taken off the shelf.

Yau added that in light with Jawi’s actions, Berjaya Books has applied for a judicial review against Jawi’s raid at the High Court of Malaya. Both Hishammuddin and Jamil Khir Baharom have been named as respondents.

Nik Raina is not the first to be charged in court. Last month, the managing director of ZI Publications, Ezra Zaid, was charged for publishing the book and released on bail.


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