For me, it's very ironic that the book itself is a victim of extremism. Does that mean women cannot even discuss extremism? ... What do they want us to do? Lie down and shut up?*I went along to the forum organised by Sisters in Islam yesterday, following the banning of Muslim Women and the Challenge of Islamic Extremism.
Among the points made in a press statement written by Maria Chin Abdullah :
The book is an outcome of several discussions and meeting among Muslim women's groups fro southeast Asia and the middle east. The writers are .... well known women activists and academicians who have persistently championed the rights of Muslim women for more than a decade. The work of these women needs to be recognised, shared and made accessible to all.Sisters in Islam (SIS) are asking the Ministry of Home Affairs (KDN) that they provide adeqaute and detailed explanations of their action which should indicate specific parts of the book that give offence, and explain why and how the book has violated the Printing Presses act. 1984 Section 7.
The issues raised in the banned book evolved around the lived experiences of Muslim women around the world, the impact of Fundamentalist Muslim movements on women's rights, the role of the state in managing the process of Islamisation, and the alternate strategies used by various women's movements in their attempts to build bridges when confronting global politics, (and the) growth of religious fundamentalism in modern day society. This book explores and discusses how women's groups, not only for Muslims but people from other faiths, can come together to identify the different areas of their lives, where networking, cooperation, and solidarity can be strengthened and built upon as contemporary women stake their claims for rights, justice and equality - principles that are pivotal in the Quran.
If they can't do this then they should, they should immediately revoke the ban on the book.
SIS also asks that there be a review of all banned books conducted, and that clear guidelines on the production, distribution and use of publications be issued.
Professor Noraini Othman, the editor of the book, talked about how the book came to be compiled and its importance, and called the banning :
... simply pandering to prejudice and capitulating to ignorance ...Wong Chin Huat from the Writers allaince for Media independence called the banning without any reason or review the height of cowardice - and said that they Malaysian public needed to be treated like political adults, the very meaning of Independence (as Malaysia comes up to its 51st Merdeka celebration) being hollow if no independence of mind was permitted.
(More about the forum this morning in the Star. I will add more links as I find them.)
*The quote at the top by SIS's Norhayati Kaprawi on Yahoo News.
(Pics - kindly taken by Alan Wong as I forgot my camera. The book was a mock up for display purposes.)