We refer to the Malaysiakini report Ban on SIS book lifted.
Sisters in Islam (SIS) is pleased with the High Court's ruling against the ban by the home ministry on its book, ‘Muslim Women and the Challenge of Islamic Extremism’.
It is a well-earned victory that is in line with our pursuit of opening up more spaces for intellectual debate and discourse, not only for us at SIS, but also for academic freedom, constitutional liberties, freedom of expression and human rights at large.
The judgement is a landmark decision because over the years, there has been an increase in the number of books, particularly on Islam and religion, which have been banned in this country.
SIS has always contended that the said publication is an academic analysis of the situation faced by Muslim women activists and asserts its right to engage in an intellectual debate on matters pertaining to Muslims.
We believe that the said judgement makes the home minister accountable for his action made under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.
We urge other authors and publishers of banned book to write to the home ministry to ask for reasons on why their books have been banned.
Without communicating to the author or the publisher on any detailed explanation for its action, it will only make one wonder whether the authorities may have something to hide or that they are submitting themselves to unfathomable prejudices or that they have simply not yet read the book.
The joy of reading is a fundamental human right and we hope to get this message across. Books are important keystone for information and expression.
Books can feed the mind, nourish the soul, and promote positive change in individuals and society. Banning books is like banning thoughts – senseless and not to mention, dangerous.
The writer is executive director, Sisters in Islam.