MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Wednesday, September 30, 2015


(Malay Mail Online) – The Federal Court’s dismissal of Ezra Zaid’s challenge against a Shariah law over the seizure of a book his company had published shows that Muslims in Malaysia have no constitutional liberties, his father Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said today.
Zaid, who previously served as de facto law minister in the Abdullah administration, said the country’s apex court in its judgment yesterday appeared to be more concerned with determining the limits of freedom and with establishing that Malaysia was an Islamic country, by virtue of the constitutional provision on Islam being the religion of the federation.
“We were naïve to think that the Federal Court would protect our basic freedom to publish a book that was legally available for sale in the country, but after yesterday’s decision it’s clear to all Muslims in the country that fundamental liberties in the Constitution mean nothing if you are Muslim,” Zaid wrote in a blog post titled “My son Ezra”.
“The learned judges kept alluding to Article 121(1A) of the Constitution, which they said precluded them from interfering with the decision of the religious department.
“They thus concluded that the Selangor Islamic Religious Department had the power to prosecute offences under Section 16 of the 1995 Enactment without even determining if Irshad Manji’s book was in fact concerned with religious instruction,” he added, referring to Article 121(A) of the Federal Constitution that states that civil courts shall have no jurisdiction in any matters within the jurisdiction of Shariah courts.
ZI Publications Sdn Bhd and its director Ezra had challenged Section 16 of the Shariah Criminal Offences (Selangor) Enactment 1995 — with Section 16 (1) making it a crime for Muslims to publish, distribute or possess publications against Islamic law — after Selangor religious authorities seized from their office in 2012 180 copies of “Allah, Kebebasan dan Cinta”, a Malay translation of Canadian author Irshad Manji’s book titled “Allah, Freedom and Love”.
A five-man bench of the Federal Court, including Court of Appeal President Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif, ruled unanimously yesterday that the Selangor legislative assembly had acted within its powers when enacting the Shariah law, noting among others Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution that allows state laws to restrict the spread of religious doctrine among Muslims.
The court decision means that Ezra, who was charged under Section 16 of the Selangor Shariah law that carries a penalty of a maximum RM3,000 fine or a maximum two-year jail term or both, will have to face trial in the Shariah court.
The High Court quashed in 2013 a government ban on “Allah, Kebebasan dan Cinta” after ZI Publications filed a judicial review. The original English version was not banned.
Zaid said today that the Federal Court did not determine if the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) had properly applied the law or whether the charge against Ezra was properly conceived.
“In other words, to ordinary people like us, it appears that if we are seeking justice in the civil courts for any transgressions in the Shariah court or the conduct of any religious department, we can forget it,” he said.
Zaid challenged the Selangor state government controlled by PKR, DAP and PAS to tell Jais that Section 16 of the Shariah Criminal Offences (Selangor) Enactment 1995 only prohibited publications containing religious instruction and “not any ordinary book”, describing Manji’s book as one containing the author’s personal reflections on Islam, not on religious instruction.
“Will they prevail on the Department to spare Ezra prosecution? Will the DAP, which champions freedom, liberty and fundamental rights, say and do something for justice in this case? I have grave doubts that anything like the above will take place; but let’s see if miracles happen,” he said.

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