PUTRAJAYA — Sept. 25, 2019: A publishing company director has succeeded in his bid to stop the Selangor syariah prosecution from proceeding with a case against him.
ZI Publications director Mohd. Ezra Mohd. Zaid was due to stand trial next month after pleading not guilty at the lower syariah court in 2013 to alternative charges of publishing, distributing and possessing 180 copies of a book by Irshad Manji that was deemed offensive to Islam.
In allowing the appeal, the Court of Appeal today granted him a certiorari order quashing his arrest and prosecution by the Selangor syariah prosecution chief, besides costs and damages for mental distress, agony and torture as a result of the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (JAIS)’s wrongful action against him.
Justice Datuk Umi Kalthum Abdul Majid, who sat with Datuk Hasnah Mohammed Hashim and Datuk Suraya Othman, ordered JAIS, its director-general, enforcement chief, Selangor syariah prosecution chief and Selangor government to pay RM10,000 costs to Ezra.
The bench further ordered the matter to be remitted to the high court for case management on October 9 pertaining to assessment of damages.
On May 29, 2012, JAIS raided ZI Publications and seized 180 copies of the book titled “Allah, Kebebasan and Cinta” by Canadian writer Irshad Manji. Ezra was also arrested. Incidentally, the home ministry’s prohibition order on both the original English version and Bahasa Malaysia translation was only gazetted the same day.
ZI Publications and Ezra subsequently filed an application for judicial review to challenge the raid by JAIS. They also sought an order to quash the raid, seizure and arrest, as well as an order compelling the department to return the books.
On March 7, 2018, a high court dismissed the judicial review.
Ezra, when met by reporters, exclaimed “It is a big day, and I’m very happy with the decision!”
He said the outcome was something his lawyers and family had been working towards for the past seven and a half years.
Fahri Azzat, representing the plaintiffs, said the respondents must inform the syariah court that it could not proceed with the prosecution of Ezra. — Bernama