Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) director and chairperson Farouk Musa has accused the authorities of attempting to curtail the way Malays think.
He said this in response to the ban on three IRF books, including the Malay-language translation of Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol’s book, under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.
“They (the authorities) are basically trying to curtail the way Malays should think. We feel that...if we did not translate the book to Malay (from English) then the book might (still be available).
“The book is banned because it has been translated into Malay, they want to control the minds of the Malays in this country,” he told Malaysiakini at the IRF secretariat in Kuala Lumpur today.
The translation of Mustafa’s 2011 book, “Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty,” was banned shortly after the author himself was summoned by the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) and detained at the airport for giving a series of talks in Kuala Lumpur, organised by IRF.
Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi explained that the book contained factual contradictions and could be “detrimental to national security” if widely distributed.
The other two banned IRF books were “Wacana Pemikiran Reformis 1” published in 2012 and a sequel published in 2014. Both were published in Malay.
“They didn’t even write us a letter to inform us that the books were going to be banned, we found out from (an article in) The Star,” said Farouk.
Lawsuits to cost RM75,000
Aside from the banning of the books, IRF has also been embroiled in legal troubles with Jawi.
Farouk has been charged with “abetting a crime” under Section 43 of the Syariah Criminal Offences Act 1997, believed to be in connection with IRF organising book launches and talks with Mustafa.
If found guilty, he could face an RM5,000 fine or three years' imprisonment. He is to present himself at the Kuala Lumpur Syariah Court on Dec 4.
The “crime” in question is that Mustafa allegedly conducted “religious teaching without tauliah (proper accreditation)” as stipulated in Section 11 of the same act.
With the help of lawyers Rosli Dahlan and Khoo Gan Huat, who are offering their services pro-bono, IRF is filing for judicial review for both the Syariah charge and the ban.
To finance the two judicial reviews and his criminal trial, Farouk has appointed Freedom Fund to undertake crowdsourcing efforts.
“The aim is to raise a total of RM75,000, of which RM5,000 is to prepare for Farouk’s fine, should he lose his case in Syariah Court.
“The other RM70,000 is to prepare for his criminal defence and the judicial reviews,” said Freedom Fund working committee member Wong Chin Huat.
Wong said they agreed to support “human rights defenders” like Farouk because the civil liberties guaranteed to Malaysians by the Federal Constitution is at stake.
“Freedom, at the end of the day, is a public good. Either we all have it, or none of us has it. Farouk will continue to pursue his fight to expand the ideas of a liberal, tolerant, progressive Islam.
“We cannot let him fight alone,” he told Malaysiakini.
Donations can be made to FF Resources PLT through bank transfer to account number 8007 5181 64 (CIMB Bank). The swift code is CIBBMYKL and “Farouk Musa” should be used as the reference or description.