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. 

1 comment:

jaa said...

Come out to the public and then be subjected to harassment, death threats and face jail?