IRF chief blasts latest book banning as bigotry

Ahmad-Farouk-Musa-ban-book-malaysia-1PETALING JAYA: Vocal activist Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa today condemned the government’s ban on several Malay-language titles dealing with topics on Islam, including a translation of a book by prominent Turkish writer Mustafa Akyol published by the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF).

The Home Ministry in a gazette dated Sept 28 announced the ban on “Islam Tanpa Keekstreman: Berhujah Untuk Kebebasan”, the Malay edition of Akyol’s international best-seller “Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty”.

It said the book, alongside two other books published by IRF, were potentially “prejudicial to public order” as well as likely to “alarm public opinion”.

Farouk, who heads the IRF, said the ban showed that the government is an enemy of scholarship.

“By banning books that provoke the mind to think critically, this government of ours showed its true colour of being an authority of bigotry and anti-intellectualism,” he told FMT in an immediate reaction after learning of the ban.

The two other books are two volumes under the IRF’s “Wacana Pemikiran Reformis” series, which are collections of essays edited by Farouk himself dealing with contemporary topics on Islam.

The home ministry, according to several issues of Federal Government Gazzette dated Sept 28 sighted by FMT, has also banned at least 10 translations of the Quran, as well as a book by prominent novelist Faisal Musa.

Faisal’s book “Aku _, Maka Aku Ada!” published in 2015 is a collection of his views on contemporary issues.

Speaking to FMT, Faisal, who has six of his other books banned by the government over allegations of promoting Shia Islam which Malaysian authorities deemed as “deviant”, described the latest ban as Malaysia entering a state of “madness”.

“This comes just days after UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Karima Bennoune, urged the government to lift the ban on my other books,” said Faisal who teaches Malay studies at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

“But I guess we have reached a state of crisis and madness that aims to control society and people’s minds,” he said.

Bennoune during a recent visit to Malaysia had urged the government to ensure greater cultural rights, and specifically called for the ban on Faisal’s books to be lifted.

“I think his books are the kind of discourse that is critical in Malaysia today with the challenges faced in the country and the rest of the region,” she told FMT in a recent interview.