A Canadian Muslim gay activist launched her controversial new book on liberal Islam in Muslim-majority Malaysia Saturday despite a government minister’s attempts to shut down the event.
Irshad Manji launched “Allah, Liberty and Love” at a hastily arranged event in the capital Kuala Lumpur after two other venues pulled out of hosting her, according to local publisher ZI Publications.
“Fantastic event in KL! Great energy — except 4 cops who told latecomers that event is banned. Didn’t stop us. Congrats 2 all,” Manji wrote on Twitter.
Jamil Khir Baharom, minister in charge of Islamic affairs, had said Islamic officials and the Home Ministry would not allow the author’s roadshow in the country following complaints.
He was quoted by national news agency Bernama as saying earlier on Saturday that the book was offensive to Muslims as was Manji’s ideology and openly gay lifestyle, which was deemed to be against Islam.
According to her website, the book, now available in the local Malay language, “shows all of us how to reconcile faith and freedom in a world seething with repressive dogmas… This book is the ultimate guide to becoming a gutsy global citizen”.
The book has not been officially banned. Manji was due to fly to New York City late Saturday.
Her previous internationally acclaimed book, “The Trouble with Islam Today”, is already banned in Malaysia, ZI Publications said.
Manji also faced problems while touring Indonesia before coming to Malaysia. Police shut down several events after the Islamic Defenders Front group held violent protests condemning her liberal views on Islam and her homosexuality.
It is also not the first time a foreign act has run into trouble in Malaysia.
In February, Malaysia banned a show by American singer Erykah Badu after a photo of her with body art including the Arabic word for “Allah” was published in a daily newspaper.