July 14, 2012
The JAWI Circus continues in the Syariah Court
by Hafiz Yatim@http://www.malaysiakini.com
A day after Borders Bookstore’s counsel strongly opposed the Federal Territory Islamic Department (Jawi)’s application to bring forward its case, it received a letter from the Kuala Lumpur Syariah Court consenting to the JAWI’s move.
Hence the religious authority’s case against Border’s store manager, Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz, initially scheduled for mention on September 19 at the Syariah High Court, will now be on August 7.
This raises the question of whether JAWI and the Syariah courts truly respect the civil courts or in the separation of jurisdictions.
Jawi charged Nik Raina, 36, (left) last month with distributing Irshad Manji’s book, ‘Allah, Liberty and Love’ after its officials raided the bookstore between 8.41pm and 9.45pm on May 23.
If convicted, she is liable to a maximum fine of RM3,000 or two years’ jail, or both. May 23.
In reality the book was only banned by the Home Ministry’s Quran text and publications unit on May 24, and gazetted on May 29, six days after the raid.
Malaysiakini tried to contact the bookstore’s lawyers from Lee Hishammuddin Allen & Gledhill, but they were unavailable for comment.
The Circus continues
It is learned that Berjaya Books Sdn Bhd which operates the book chain received a letter dated July 6 to that effect yesterday. When Nik Raina was charged, Borders’ lawyers had informed the court that they had filed a judicial review, hence the court had fixed mention for September 19.
Berjaya Books had on June 25, obtained leave (permission) from the Kuala Lumpur High Court. However, JAWI to the Syariah High Court on June 27 asking for an early date citing public interest in the case and for explaining it to the media and bloggers.
Berjaya Book’s lawyers, had written to JAWI on July 5 and the Syariah court strongly opposing this move. The Syariah High Court in a letter dated July 6 which Berjaya Books had just received had agreed with JAWI’s application.
It would appear that the court did not take the company’s strong objections into consideration.
Berjaya Books chief operating officer Yau Su Peng,(left) confirmed with Malaysiakini today that the case had been brought forward.
“In asking for an earlier date for the Syariah proceedings to be heard, Jawi appears to be trying to circumvent the hearing of the stay application which the Civil High Court has fixed for July 30 and the judicial review hearing for September 5.”
Legal sacrificial lamb?
Borders had strongly opposed Nik Raina being charged as she is not authorised to select books. However, JAWI cannot charge the company or non-Muslims from the company as it does not have that jurisdiction. As a result Nik Raina had to face the rap.
To Borders and Berjaya Books’ credit they have been with her all the way with Yau and Borders Assistant General Manager (Operations and Merchandising) Stephen Fung Wye Keong appearing with Nik Raina in the Syariah High Court and the KL High Court.
Manji, (right) the controversial Uganda born Canadian author, was down in Malaysia in May to launch her recent work which was translated into Bahasa Malaysia by ZI Publications Sdn Bhd.
ZI Publications was not spared either as the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department summoned the company’s director Mohd Ezra Mohd Zaid once the book had been published.
On July 8 ZI Publications also filed a judicial review challenging the religious authorities action.