PETALING JAYA: The government has finally confirmed the banning of a book published by G25, a group of prominent Malays, in a statement released by the home ministry yesterday.
The book, “Breaking the Silence: Voices of Moderation – Islam in a Constitutional Democracy”, was one of 18 in the prohibition order issued by the home ministry, for containing material that may be “detrimental to security and public order, jeopardising morality and public interest, and corrupting the minds of the public”.
The statement, issued by the ministry’s secretary-general Alwi Ibrahim, revealed that the order was issued on July 27, 2017.
“This order specifies that the printing, importation, production, reproduction, publication, sale, distribution, issuance, circulation, distribution or possession of the publications are strictly prohibited in Malaysia,” he said in the statement.
The reason for the banning of the G25 book was given as “it contains elements promoting liberalism and pluralism which are contrary to Islam’s Ahli Sunnah Wal Jamaah (Sunni) teachings”.
It was previously reported that the ban on the book was made under the Printing Presses and Publications (Control of Undesirable Publications) (No. 12) Order 2017, and signed by Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on June 14.
When news first broke of the book being banned, there was much criticism, given that Malaysia was projecting itself as a model of moderate Islam on the international front.
Chandra Muzaffar, who is director of the International Movement for a Just World, told FMT previously that the move to ban the book was “utterly ridiculous”.
“It’s a collection of essays which intended to show that extremists and bigoted thinking on matters pertaining to the practice of Islam in the country should be combated in an intellectual manner.
“That’s what the book aimed to do, and to show the extremists’ attempts to interpret Islam in a manner that suits the interests of certain groups,” said Chandra, who had also contributed to the book.
He added that if anything, the book had in fact upheld the basic fundamental principles of the Federal Constitution.
According to Bernama, among the other publications banned for containing translations and facts that are against Sunni teachings are “Humanisme Islam: Kajian terhadap Pemikiran Filosofis Muhammad Arkoun”, “Kisah Para Nabi”, “Kasyaf Al-Haq (Mengenal Allah)”, “Kisah-kisah Ghaib Dalam Hadis Sahih”, “Agama Allah Rahmat dan Penyelamat Bagi Seluruh Alam”, “At-Thariq Ilallah Thariqat Al-Hassaniyyah”, “Berdialog Dengan Jin Islam”, “Piramid: Rahsia Purba Yang Dapat Anda Manfaatkan”, and “Menyingkap Misteri Pulau Besar”.
“These publications could cause confusion to the public and are categorised as deviating from the true teachings of Islam,” Alwi said.
Other publications banned are “Fatimah Az-Zahara Wanita Solehah Sinaran Zaman”, which contains elements of Shia teachings, and “Misteri Merong Maha Kuasa dan Penyebaran Islam di Timur (Part 1) Kisah Khalifah Sharif Yang Di-Pertuan Kedah dan Legasinya”, which was found to have misleading historical facts which deviate from real facts on Kedah.
Three other books were banned for containing sexually explicit narration and images promoting social freedom. They are “28 Hari: Jurnal Rock N Roll + Anarki Di Kuala Lumpur”, “Habibi” and “Drive Me Wild”.
“On the whole, all the publications are deemed detrimental and misleading to readers, especially the young, and these are not suitable for general reading,” Alwi said, according to Bernama.
“Individuals who print, import, produce, reproduce, publish, sell, issue, circulate, offer to sell, distribute or are in possession of the banned materials are considered to have committed an offence.
“If convicted, they can be imprisoned for up to three years or fined not exceeding RM20,000 or both, under Section 8 (2) of Act 301.”