World

Furore after Malaysia bans book promoting moderate Islam

KUALA LUMPUR: Activists and authors in Malaysia reacted with outrage yesterday after the authorities banned a book aimed at promoting moderate Islam, as concerns mount about growing conservatism.

The book, Breaking The Silence: Voices Of Moderation - Islam In A Constitutional Democracy, is a collection of essays whose publication was organised by a group of prominent Muslim Malaysians pushing a more tolerant form of Islam.

The ban, signed by Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, said that printing or possessing the book was "likely to be prejudicial to public order" and "likely to alarm public opinion".

Anyone breaching the ban on the book - which was published in Singapore - can be jailed for up to three years.

Malaysia routinely bans books, movies and songs that may contain sensitive material regarding religion or sex, but critics say the government has been clamping down harder in recent times.

The book was the brainchild of a group of former high-ranking civil servants and diplomats known as the G25 - for the number of its founding members. G25 was formed to push back against intolerance, and some essays were written by its members.

One author, Chandra Muzaffar, said the ban showed the government's "authoritarian approach to Islam". - AFP

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