26 November 2007

MDP sheikh warns against "dangers" of religious freedom

Ahmed 'B.A' Naseem, a member of the Islamic Advisory Council, National Council and the Congress of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has given a fatwa saying it is haraam to build places of worship for other religions in the Maldives, and warned against freedom of religion, describing it as a violation of (God given) rights of Muslims.

In his regular column on Minivan (a dhivehi daily connected with MDP) he wrote that "there is no way, building a temple on Maldivian soil will be legal in Islamic Shariah". Warning against the "dangers" of freedom of religion, he wrote that according to some Islamic Scholars; "it is obligatory for Muslims to destroy the existing places of worship (except mosques) after conquering a non-Muslim land". 

Here is a translation of the concluding lines of his article;

"Building places of worship for people of other religions, and letting them live in Maldives, with freedom of religion guaranteed by law, will leave Maldives in religious conflicts and unthinkable chaos, considering how things are these days. In such a situation it is most likely that, with the aid of millions and millions of dollars, and international conventions, and in the name of human rights; people of other religions will overpower Muslims of Maldives in the Maldives. May Allah save this country from such a humiliating fate! Amen! Right now it is important to think deeply about the assaultive activities of non-Muslims against Muslims in the name of human rights or in other such names.

O people of intellect. Is depriving Muslims of a right which have been given to them and giving that right to a people of some other religion in the name of human rights, acceptable to the sane mind? What glory is there being stuck in things, deceived by materialism?"

[Note:According to the constitution/bylaws of MDP, the Islamic Advisory Council's responsibilities are; creating Islamic awareness, forbidding the unislamic and enjoining the good, advising MDP on religious issues.]

25 November 2007

Politicians and Freedom of Religion.

Freedom of religion, let alone a secular state is something all the political parties and almost all politicians oppose. Although there are some who personally believe in secularism or that freedom of religion is a basic human right, many of them oppose this because of their religious beliefs. Others fear a loss of popular support if they stand up for these principles.  And they are right to think so, because in the past few decades Maldivian nationalism (if we even have that now) was recreated around Islamist beliefs. Today a large majority of Maldivians believe that Islam(ism) is the basis of the nation's unity, freedom, and existence, they insist that this "blessing" should never be taken away and freedom of religion is the worst thing that could happen to Maldives. They also believe in a global non-muslim conspiracy to hurt and humiliate Muslims and Islam.  Our very own imaginary Emmanuel Goldstein.

While this is the ground reality, many a time does these politicians and parties try to portray themselves as the champions of freedom and democracy in the Maldives. Some of them show a 'democracy and human rights' face to the west/international community and a 'religious' face to the people. But the truth is they are against  freedom of religion all the way. Take for example the recent amendment against freedom of religion. Now lets see their stand on this matter straight from some official documents...

Islamic Democratic Party

IDP claims to be an Islamic 'moderate' party. and yet, "..to retain Maldives as a 100% Islamic , independent and sovereign country" is mentioned in the Party's Manifesto (3.1) as one of their main objectives. and the very first objective of the party mentioned on it's website is; "opposing the introduction of any religion other than Islam to Maldives and to retain Maldives as a 100% Islamic country forever".

Adaalath Party.

Perhaps Adaalath is the most open in their views against freedom of religion or their support for islamism. Formed by Salafi/Islamist religious scholars after vowing to bring about an 'Islamic Awakening' in the Maldives, this party is seen as the local Islamist vanguard party. The Party Manifesto, under Aims and Objective says:

(a) To establish an Islamic; political, social, economic, cultural and moral system in Maldives.

(b) To retain the Islamic and Maldivian (Cultural) tone of Maldives.

     (i) Striving to make Maldivians proud of their religion (Islam), obedient to the religious commands, and saving Maldives from all false creeds, and all irreligious currents.

and in the "permanent policies" section its says;

(a) In making any decision, the party's first priority will be to find out what the stand of Islam on the matter is, and acting accordingly. It is only a secondary matter to look in to the situation and what it allows us to do.

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party

President Gayoom's DRP are hypocrites in this issue. They often accuse opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) of spreading Christianity, but they also accuse them of having links to extremists, and terrorists. The first accusation is for popular support, second is for the international community.
In the DRP manifesto the first title after an introduction is "Religion and Nationalism". The text below that reads;

"It is a must to strengthen the pillars (fundamental principles) of Islamic Unity and Nationalism. Since ancestral times, the most important role in protecting our unity and freedom was played by the holy religion of Islam. Foreign forces will always strive hard to introduce and spread religions other than Islam to Maldives. Protecting the Islamic unity among Maldivians is one of the most important fundamentals of this party. This beloved nation must always remain in the perfect light of Islam. We will never give any space for any other religion on this land of ours as long as we have a pulse in our bodies. Therefore, it is our most essential and important duty to strengthen the Islamic creed of Maldivians.To perfectly protect the opportunity to raise the Maldivian children upon the most beautiful ways of Islam is a fundamental principle of this party."

Maldivian Democratic Party

MDP often accuse president Gayoom of being unislamic or disrespecting Islamic principles. but at the same time they accuse him to be an  Egyptian Azhar University educated mullah, who is the father of religious extremism in Maldives.  Just like DRP, an Islamist face for locals and an anti-Islamist face for international community.

MDP had one of the most popular extremist leaders in the country (Sheikh Fareed) preaching at their meetings, and yet with good PR they are successfully selling the pro-democracy/human rights and even 'secular party' image to the international community. For example; the writer of this article thinks MDP is a secular party. And this paper quotes the MDP draft manifesto which says the party will aim to create "a secular democratic society" in Maldives. However this draft manifesto, to this day, remains a draft manifesto. I believe MDP still does not have an official party manifesto (I have contacted senior party members, and i have contacted them through the official website requesting a copy of the Manifesto if there is one, but i didn't get any response). The 2002 draft Manifesto can be found here.

The constitution/bylsaws of the party published on their website states;

"3.3 The party will work to:
(a) Protect the blessed religion of Islam. And MDP will never give a chance to any religion other than Islam (to be practiced in Maldives)."

and yet they issued a press release (in English language, meant for the international community alone one could assume) about the "only Muslims can be Maldivians citizens" article passed by the Constitutional Assembly.


The politicians and political parties are pushing Maldives into the darkness of intolerance and Islamist extremism, concerned only about their immediate and short term goals. Some of them seems to be only concerned about getting rid of the 30 years old dictatorship of Gayoom, even if it means to take away basic human rights of the citizens in the process. For Gayoom and allies, it is all about holding on to power. our politicians simply don't care about this issue, which is why those who do care should stand up and speak out. 

19 November 2007

Non-muslim Maldivians could become stateless with the new Constitution

The Special Majlis (Constitutional Assembly) have passed an amendment stating that only Muslims can be Maldivian citizens. The amendment to Article 9 (Citizens of Maldives) of  Chapter One (State, Sovereignty and Citizens) of the Constitution was proposed by H.Dh member Abdulla Naseer and seconded by G.A member Ibrahim Khalil Abdulla.

Prior to the amendment (following another amendment proposed by Addu member Husnu-Suood) the article was as follows :

(A) The following persons are citizens of the Maldives:

1-Citizens of the Maldives at the commencement of this constitution
2-Children born to a citizen of the Maldives; and
3-Foreigners who, in accordance to the law becomes citizens of the Maldives.

(B) The citizenship of Maldives cannot be taken away from a citizen of Maldives.

(C) Any person who wishes to renounce the citizenship, can do so in accordance with the law.

Abdulla Naseer then proposed to add a 'D' to this list as follows:

(D) even if (A) of this article states so, none except a Muslim can become a citizen of Maldives.

From the 83 members (of the total 112) present at the time of vote; 78 members voted in favor, 2 members voted to remain neutral, but none of the members voted against this amendment.

A prominent lawyer and one of the members who voted to be neutral, Addu member Husnu-Suood said he feared that, with this amendment, a number of Maldivians may lose their right to be citizens of Maldives or even worse; become stateless.

"According to the current Constitution of Maldives, Children of every Maldivian mother and every Maldivian father are citizens of Maldives. Even I know of some Maldivians who are following religions other than Islam. Some of them are living in Australia, some even in Europe.They hold Maldivian passport. According to the current constitution the door to become a citizen of Maldives is open to people of all religions. That door is not closed. Things were like that, but when this was passed today, once the new constitution is passed and comes into effect; some Maldivians will lose their right to remain as citizens of Maldives" said Husnu-Suood. He also said this amendment "will lead to many legal problems".

Another lawyer Raa member and vice president of the Majlis, Shaheen Hameed said this amendment contradicts with the other points of this article. "Now we will have to see who remains as Muslims at the time of adopting the new constitution, before we take them as citizens of Maldives", he said.

Although the current constitution does not specifically mention this, any person found 'guilty' of following or preaching , or simply reading texts of other religions are punished till he or she reverts to Islam. Religious views contradicting the state's version of Islam are also not tolerated and a person can even be punished for praying in a certain way, or carrying a buddha statue, or wearing a crucifix.

[sources: haveeru, majlis website - pdf]

14 November 2007

No 'unislamic' clothing inside courts

Ministry of Justice have released a new set of rules (a dress code) to be followed when entering the courts.Among these rules was one which states that the person entering a court"Must not wear; any clothing that typify unislamic expressions, or any of such ornaments on any part of the body".

Even before this, wearing of any such ornament or clothing in the public was not often tolerated those who did may have to face consequences. Many in the past have been summoned to police stations and even punished for such 'offenses' as wearing a crucifix.

Although the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives have not commented on this issue, they have already expressed concern over the banning of Face Veil (Hijab) from the court. The commission described this ban as "a human rights violation". Commission member Sheikh Ahmed Abdul Kareem said ... "if there is need to check their identity, female staff can do so; but face veiling should not be banned completely".

06 November 2007

IDP propose to change country's official name to "Islamic Republic of Maldives".

Islamic Democratic Party have proposed to change Maldives' official name from "Republic of Maldives" to "Islamic Republic of Maldives". In a press release published on their website, the party president and founder Umar Naseer requested for the public's views on this matter. Umar said changing the name and strengthening the bond between the religion of Maldivians (Islam) and Maldives would be a slap on the face of those people who wants a secular Maldives. He also said that a lot of plans and efforts to introduce Christianity to Maldives is underway, and foreign organizations are even bribing Maldivian politicians to achieve this objective. He requested to text him (to 7866666) to express public opinion and comments regarding this.


Constitutional Drafting Committee oppose freedom of religion

The Malaysian Professor Mohamed Hashim Kamali, currently in Maldives to advise the Special Majlis' constitutional drafting committee have said that the drafting committee was against allowing other religions to be practiced in the country.

He also said that the new draft constitution is 100% Islamic. Despite this, some members of the Majilis are demanding to make it more islamic it seems. I wonder if they are suggesting beheading of converts and stoning of adulterers.

“In my opinion it is not necessary to include the phrase ‘Islamic Shariah’ in every constitutional amendment. That is because the constitution says that Islam should be the (official) religion of the Maldives,” Professor Kamali said.“Despite my recommendations, it is up to the drafting committee to decide what to include in the draft. The recommendations include how Islam deals with other religions and the problems that could arise in Maldives if other religions were allowed to be practiced” he said.

“Many Quranic verses say so. It recognizes Christianity and other religions. To close the door to them is a disservice to….Islam.”
said Kamali. He also warned that Islam does not allow followers to renounce the faith but the 64,000 expatriates living in the Maldives should be able to open schools for their children and practice their faith openly, he urged. However the drafting committee and all the political parties are against freedom of religion even for migrant workers livings in the country.

source: [haveeru] , [minivannews]

04 November 2007

Maldivians are free within the bounds of law...and shariah?

Chapter 2 (The Maldivian Charter of rights and freedoms) article 4 (Freedom from restraint) of the new draft constitution says:

"A citizen is free to engage in any conduct or activity that is not expressly prohibited by law. No control or restraint maybe exercised against any person unless it is expressly authorized by law. "

now special majilis G.Dh memeber Abbas (brother in law of Gayom) wanted to amend this to include "...not expressly prohibited by law and Shariah". why should shariah come there? i mean ... it is not a clearly defined thing. what is bad in shariah for me might be what is the best in shariah for him.what i am trying to say is shariah is not a very clearly defined thing and there is no agreement among islamic scholars on most of the matters.So, i can interpret shariah any way i want, because there is no list of people who can interpret shariah given in the holy texts.

if shariah is included here, it might be manipulated for political gains by the government.It would be something like 'ghairu qaanoonee'. None but the government only knows what the hell 'ghairu qaanoonee' is. but when someothing becomes 'ghairu qaanoonee' they could be punished severely (a ghairuqaanoonee loud speaker can be confiscated,star force can crack down on any ghariqaanoonee assembly....and so on).

and the good news is, for what ever reason, this amendment was not passed from the special majilis. so it would remain as it is for now. and this was condemned by many people as an act against Islam and a step towards secularism.Those who voted against this are Ibra, Xray Athif, Kaanal, Shihab (all Male' members), Gn Atoll memeber Modi and President's appointed member Ahmed Zahir. I think they were acting in the best interest of the people in doing so. What Maldives needs is a secular state.This "100% muslim nation" myth need to end now. This is just a single step... there is so much more we need to do (only if any one there cares about this.)


[news source]