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Irshad Manji rushed out of book-launch

Canadian liberal Muslim activist Irshad Manji was escorted out of the Salihara venue in South Jakarta on Friday, where she was supposed to launch her new book, Allah, Liberty and Love.

“I love you all and I am proud of you all,” she said to the people who attended the event, which was abruptly stopped by police following demonstrations outside.

She added that she would not be deterred by such intimidation.

Dozens of people claiming to be residents and members of mass groups shouted derogatory words at her as she climbed into her car. A police car followed behind.

“I really hope the police will protect her because she is a Canadian national. If the police do something wrong, which can trigger protest from Canada, then shame on us,” Indonesian writer Goenawan Mohamad said.

The event began at around 7 p.m. A police officer stepped forward around 15 minutes after Manji began to speak to announce that the event should be called off. Moments later, a number of people were heard shouting their disapproval of the event.

“The local residents disapproved of this activity, and this activity involves a foreigner. Therefore, it requires a special permit from the Jakarta Police,” Pasar Minggu Police Chief. Comr. Adri Desas Furyanto, said.

He added that members of FBR, FPI and Forkabi were among the protestors.

Akse, one of the protesters, complained of Manji’s sexual identity, which the latter has confessed that she was a lesbian.

“This Irshad is a lesbian, do you want this country to be a lesbian?” he said.

Ulil Abshar Abdhalla, an activist known for his liberal stance towards Islam who was attending the event, said that its disbanding was unfair.

“Freedom of speech not only belongs to the conservative groups,” he said. (asa)


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