A new book by controversial Muslim author and activist Irshad Manji was banned in Malaysia this week. Copies of Manji’s new book, Allah, Liberty, and Love, were confiscated from a Kuala Lumpur bookshop by the Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department (JAWI). Deputy Home Minister Datuk Abu Seman Yusop condemned the book for being blasphemous to Islam and Prophet Muhammad in a statement released yesterday. The Minister said the ban was made in accordance with the Printing Presses and Publication Act 1984, which allows books to be banned for causing “disturbance to the public”. The Malaysian publishers of the book believe that the confiscations were illegal, since it took place without a court order.
Manji, who advocates for progressive reforms in Islam, first rose to fame with her book The Trouble with Islam Today, which is also banned in Malaysia. The 2003 book sparked much criticism of the openly gay writer, who reportedly faced death threats and harassment for her calls for the incorporation of more liberal values into modern Islam.
Manji is currently on tour with her new book, and also faced harassment in the neighbouring Indonesia earlier this month, where demonstrations forced authorities to shut down parts of her tour. Religious extremists eventually attacked a book discussion with the author, and beat a colleague of Manji with a metal bar.
Manji took to Twitter to release a statement about the country’s decision to ban and confiscate the book: