June 22, 2012
Online support for Borders’ fight (Updated)
Last updated on 22 June 2012 – 05:38pm
by Alyaa Alhadjri
PETALING JAYA (June 21, 2012): Borders bookstore’s outrage over the victimisation of its staff by Federal Territory Islamic Department (Jawi) has gained much attention and support from netizens.
The move by Berjaya Books Sdn Bhd, which own and operate the Bordersbookstore chain in Malaysia. to decry the malicious prosecution of its store manager Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz by Jawi has been much lauded.
Indeed, a strongly-worded criticism by Berjaya Books Chief Operating Officer Yau Su Peng which was published on the Borders Malaysia’s official Facebook page has gone viral with 3,097 shares and 1,406 ‘likes’ as at 5.15pm, June 22.
The two-page statement titled ‘Borders outraged by victimisation of its staff’ received over 350 comments which were mostly in support of the company’s defence of Nik Raina.
The statement was released on Tuesday after Nik Raina, 36, was charged by Jawi with distributing and selling the book Allah, Kebebasan dan Cinta at Borders bookstore at The Gardens Mall, between 8.41pm and 9.45pm on May 23.
The book is a Bahasa Malaysia version of Allah, Liberty and Love by Canadian author Irshad Manji.
The charge under Section 13 (1) of Syariah Criminal Offences Act (Federal Territories) 1997 carries a fine of up to RM3,000 or two years jail, or both, upon conviction.
The company had come out in full defence of Nik Raina who it said was only performing her duty, because as store manager, she did not have influence or control over the selection of books in Borders.
Yau also stressed that at the time of the raid on Borders by Jawi on May 23, the book had not yet been banned by the Home Ministry, nor had any fatwa or any form of notification issued by Jawi to Borders.
“There was no way for Borders to have known that Jawi considered the book to be objectionable,” he said, adding that the Home Ministry only gazetted the banning of the book on May 29, and that fact was only published on June 14.
“Kudos to Borders for defending Nik Raina. The charge against Nik Raina is nothing but an intimidation attempt by the religious authorities,” said a comment by Mohani Niza.
Another comment by Vincent Lee said: “Good on Borders to be defending their staff … The abuse of Muslim employees is uncalled for. When authorities behave like gangsters, how do you expect citizens to obey the law?”
Yau’s statement, which was published in full by an online portal, was also recommended through Facebook by nearly 600 readers.
Not only has the statement made an impact on social networking sites, it was also the subject of discussion by among others, influential blogger Din Merican.
“In the past 12 hours, I have received numerous calls and emails from my contacts amongst the international wire services asking about the case of Nik Raina …,” wrote Merican.
Berjaya Books had also on Monday challenged the prosecution of Nik Raina by applying to the High Court for a judicial review of Jawi’s actions.
An issue highlighted by the action is that the power to ban books is provided for under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (PPPA) and not the Syariah Criminal Offences Act.