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Court allows judicial review of banned book

KUALA LUMPUR, 25 Aug 2009: The High Court (Appelate and Special Powers Division) here today allowed an application by Sisters in Islam (SIS) for a judicial review of a book which the government banned.

Judicial Commissioner Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof made the order after listening to arguments by senior federal counsel Noor Hishamuddin Ismail who was representing then Home Minister Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar and counsel K Shanmuga who was representing SIS.

Mohamad Ariff fixed 28 Oct for hearing of the application.

SIS Forum (Malaysia) had on 15 Dec last year applied for a judicial review of an order by the Home Minister banning a book titled Muslim Women and the Challenge of Islamic Extremism which was published by SIS in 2005.

The Home Ministry gazetted the ban on 31 July 2008, under Section 7(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act, 1984, on the basis that the book was “prejudicial to public order”.

SIS, which wants the ban lifted, named Syed Hamid as the respondent.

The book, a collection of essays by international activists and intellectuals was edited by sociologist Prof Norani Othman of the Malaysian and International Studies Institute of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, who is also a SIS member.

SIS claimed that the book ban by Syed Hamid last year was outside the ambit of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 and contravened Article 8(2), 10(1)(a) and 11(4) of the Federal Constitution.

In granting leave, the judge, among other things, said that he was satisfied that SIS’s application raised important issues related to fundamental liberties, state jurisdiction and Malaysia’s obligation to international human rights standards.

In a statement today, SIS welcomed the court’s decision. — Bernama

See also:
The bane of book banning

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