Jawi admits to acting against Borders without fatwa

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The Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department (Jawi) has admitted that it acted against book retailer Borders and store manager Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz even though there is no fatwa (religious edict)  against the book 'Allah, Liberty and Love'.

This admission is in Jawi's affidavit sent on Merdeka Eve, said Rosli Dahlan, the lawyer for book chain operator Berjaya Books Sdn Bhd, Nik Raina and Berjaya Book's assistant general manager (operations and merchandising) Stephen Fung.

Rosli ( right ) said this outside the Kuala Lumpur High Court after the case came up for the judicial review hearing today before Justice Rohana Yusof.

"There is no gazette of the fatwa to say the book is illegal as the book was only banned by the Home Ministry six days after the seizure," he said.

Berjaya Books had filed for a judicial review in June to quash Jawi's action in arresting and prosecute Nik Raina, also questioning why the home minister had not intervened when the book was only banned days later.

The senior federal counsel who appeared for Jawi, the home minister and the minister in the Prime Minister's Department, has sought more time to file an affidavit from the home minister.

Rosli said the plaintiffs had filed the affidavits and required documents with the court in June and that, by right, the respondents should have filed their documents within 14 days.

"Now, they have asked for an extension of time to file in an affidavit from the home minister,' he said.

"The court has now fixed Oct 4 for case management and Oct 22 for the hearing before Justice Rohana."

This was confirmed by senior federal counsel Effendi Nazila Daud, who admitted that more time is needed for the home minister to file an affidavit.

Effendi said Jawi has filed an affidavit on its own behalf and the minister in the PM’s Department.

'Jawi asked Jakim to scrutinise book'

In Jawi's affidavit, director Che Mat Che Ali stated that Jawi had on May 19 asked the federal Islamic Advancement Department (Jakim) to scrutinise the book.

On May 22, Jakim's planning and research division said it found Ugandan-born Irshad Manji's book to be against Islamic beliefs and the syariah.

Furthermore, the Islamic liberal thinking expressed in the book was against the decision of the National Fatwa Council made in July 2006.

Che Mat said based on this response from the Jakim division, Jawi had monitored the sale and distribution of the book.

A subsequent search of the Borders Bookstore at the Gardens Mall found the bookshop to be in violation of Section 13(1) of the Syariah Offences Act 1997 for distributing the book.

The Home Ministry only banned the book on May 29.

Meanwhile, Fung ( right in photo ) in his affidavit-in-reply to Jawi, said the bookstore was never informed of the position taken by  Jawi or Jakim on Manji's book.

Fung said the raid on May 23 was out to shame Borders, as journalists and photographers were present during the raid.

He maintained that Jawi's action to seize the books was wrong in law, that he is not a Muslim and that the Syariah Court has no jurisdiction over him.

Fung reiterated that matters pertaining to publication and control of publications are not with Jawi, but with the Home Ministry.

The Syariah Court therefore has no jurisdiction to charge Nik Raina, he added.

Proceedings by publisher

On another matter concerning 'Allah Liberty & Love', Justice Rohana fixed Oct 4 for case management of the judicial review application filed by Irshad Manji's publisher ZI Publications Sdn Bhd.

Lawyer K Shanmuga, who is representing ZI Publications and its director Mohd Ezra Mohd Zaid ( left ), said the applicants have yet to file the judicial review application against the Selangor government.

ZI Publications and Ezra filed the judicial review application to challenge the seizure of the translated copies of the book.

They named Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais), its director-general, its chief enforcement officer, its chief prosecutor and the Selangor and federal governments as respondents in the application.

On July 31, Justice Rohana granted ZI Publications and Ezra leave to initiate the judicial review proceedings.

They also obtained an order from the same court to prevent Jais from investigating and prosecuting ZI Publications and Ezra.

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