Sonee Hardware announces winner of 40th Anniversary logo design competition

Sonee Hardware has announced Ahmed Infas Shafeeu of M.Lumboamaage as the winner of its 40th anniversary logo design competition.

Shafeeu was presented with a Rf 20,000 cash prize and a certificate, following a nationwide competition that attracted 1,500 entries from all over the Maldives.

“We are extremely happy to highlight the excellent participation of our customers and the public in general,” Assistant General Manager Hassan Hameez said,.

“The logos submitted had creative tastes from all across the nation, making the contest really competitive at the selection stage. Thank you very much for all those who participated and played a key role in making this event a success.”
this achievement.” Said Ahmed Infas, winner of the competition.

The competition was open to general public, individuals, creative agencies, private companies, schools and educational institutions.


Islamic Foundation calls for death sentence if apostate fails to repent

The Islamic Foundation has called for self-declared apostate Mohamed Nazim to be stripped of his citizenship and sentenced to death if he does not repent and return to Islam.

Nazim claimed he was “Maldivian and not a Muslim” during a public question-and-answer session with Islamic speaker Dr Zakir Naik, the first time a Maldivian has publicly announced he is not a Muslim.

According to the Maldivian constitution all citizens are required to be Muslim, and the country is always described as a “100 percent” Muslim country.

The 37 year-old angered many in the approximately 11,000-strong crowd with his statement during Dr Naik’s ‘Misconceptions about Islam’ lecture on Friday.

Dr Naik responded that Nazim had read the wrong books and “deviated from Islam”, and requested him “to read correct books on Islam, and Inshallah, you’ll come back to Islam.”

However Nazim did not relinquish the microphone and pressed Naik to clarify the penalty for apostasy.

“In Islam, there are many cases, it doesn’t mean death penalty,” Dr Naik explained. “But if the person who reverts who was a Muslim then converts to and becomes a non-Muslim and propagates his faith and speaks against Islam, and if it’s Islamic rule, then the person should be put to death. But just because a person who is a Muslim becomes a non-Muslim, death penalty is not the ruling.”

Nazim was escorted from the venue by police for his own protection, after members of the audience attempted to attack him.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said two men who tried to attack Nazim were arrested after they attacked the police officers protecting him. Nazim himself “was not injured because police protected him,” Shiyam said.

He was taken to a police building where a crowd of protesters had gathered, calling for him to be punished. Shiyam confirmed that Nazim is now being held in an undisclosed location for five days while police investigate “in consultation with the Islamic Ministry and the Prosecutor General’s office.”

Today the Islamic Foundation of the Maldives issued a press statement calling on judges to give Nazim the opportunity to repent “and if he does not, then sentence him to death as Islamic law and Maldivian law agree.”

“The Islamic Foundation believes that the person who announces apostasy should be punished according to Islamic laws,” the NGO said, warning that Nazim represented “a disturbance to the religious views and the religious bonds that exist with Maldivians.”

“Hereby if this man does not do his penance and come back to the Islamic religion, the Islamic Foundation of the Maldives calls to take the citizenship away from this man as mentioned in the Maldivian constitution.”

If case crossed into areas not covered by the laws of the country, “then the judges should rely on Islamic law,” the NGO stated, as per article 142 of constitution which says judiciary shall look into Islamic shar’ia on matters not covered in law, and sentence accordingly.

“So it is requested that the commissioner of police run the legal research on this man and take this to the Prosecutor General’s office. We also request the Prosecutor General to go through this matter and to take this man to the criminal court for trial,” the Islamic Foundation said.

A government official involved in the legal process, who requested that his name and department be kept anonymous, said he was “really worried” and described the case as “a very sensitive subject”.

“Police are investigating the case,” he said. “My understanding is that the court authorities will give [Nazim] opportunities to change his mind. I think he will be given every opportunity to think about his decision.”

Minister for Islamic Affairs Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari told Minivan News that Ministry officials had acted quickly to remove Nazim from the venue “for his own protection”, and had now handed the matter over to the legal system.

“I don’t know if there is a penalty for apostasy according to Maldivian law,” he said.

The Adhaalath Party issued a press statement claiming that the act violated the constitution of the Maldives and called on the government “to strengthen Islam and protect the constitution.”

Religious NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf declined to comment on the matter during a press conference held today on another matter, however NGO Jamiyyathul Musliheen expressed “concern and regret” over the incident.

”Not a few number of Maldivian youths are moving further from the religion, and many of them are going renegade,” the NGO said in a press statement, adding that “it is a responsibility of the government to strengthen Islam in the country.”

President of the Human Rights Commission to the Maldives (HRCM), Ahmed Saleem, said “what happened was really unfortunate.”

“I think the best thing will be to talk to him and to make him understand the situation and the repercussions, talks which HRCM will welcome,” Saleem said.

He said he was unsure how the Maldivian government would handle the incident.

“I’m afraid of the reaction from the international community should we resort to harsh action,” he said. “I don’t think it would be in our interest – we have just been given a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. This is something we need to think seriously about before we start using harsh language.”

Minivan News contacted several local human rights NGOs however they had not responded at time of press.

A senior government source, who requested anonymity, said he felt the case “will be a real test of how the government will abide by its international commitments.”

Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair was on medical leave and unable to comment.

Minivan News was unable to reach Nazim himself for comment, however a person close to the matter described him as “a very sensible guy who will think of the people around him. But he will not give up on calling for people to be more honest about themselves. I think he will become a genuine refugee if he refuses to take back his words,” she said.

A transcript Dr Naik’s response to Nazim is available here.


Education Minister and Deputy Trade Minister joins MDP

Minister of  Education Dr Mustafa Luthfy and Deputy Trade Minister Ahmed Inaz yesterday left the Gaumy Ihthihaadh Party (GIP) to join the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

Last week the MDP National Council announced it was tearing up its coalition agreement with GIP, and requested President Mohamed Nasheed remove all GIP ministers from public office. Economic Minister Mohamed Rasheed was sacked several weeks ago amid ongoing tension between the two parties.

Dr Luthfy, who was deputy leader of GIP, said  he joined MDP not because he had been influenced or under threat of losing his job, but because he felt that it was “the best way to continue serving the people.”

”I discussed it with GIP Leader Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik before taking the decision,” Dr Luthfy said. ”He said it was sad, but said to do as I wished.”

Dr Luthfy said he did not condone criticising the government while he was a member of it.

”I do not know whether GIP might join the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP),” Dr Luthfy said, ”but I noticed that during a recent GIP rally held at Giyasudeen School, a lot of DRP members attended.”

He said that there was no split between the government and GIP, and that the tensions were rather between the two parties.

”The President told me I could stay in the position as an a individual,” he said, ”but I preferred to join MDP of my own wish.”

He said that MDP had invited him to join the party on several different occasions.

Vice President of the Maldives Dr Waheed Hassan Manik, who is also a key figure in GIP, said the decision by Luthfy and Inaz was their own and he had nothing to say.

He said their decision would not affect GIP and that he was not sad about it.

”[Luthfy and Inaz] discussed it with me,” he said. ”I told them to do as they wished.”

MDP Spokesperson Ahmed Haleem said both the Education Minister and Deputy Trade Minister had been serving the party unofficially long ago, in different ways.

”Now have they returned to where they belong,” Haleem said. ”It will be a progress for them.”

He claimed that GIP was now “close to joining DRP”.

”In my political experience I can say that it is very likely to happen,” he suggested.


Salaf dismisses feminist campaign to withdraw support for ”The Call”

Religious NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf has hit back at feminist movement Rehendhi and the ‘Enough is Enough’ group after they called on sponsors to withdraw support from the upcoming Salaf-hosted event, ‘The Call’.

At a press conference today, Salaf said it did not consider the voice of an unregistered, underground NGO “as an official complaint”.

Mohamed Sobah, Secretary General of Salaf who spoke on behalf of the NGO, said that “all NGOs and all Maldivians support the event”, which will feature talks and lectures from visiting Islamic scholar Dr Bilal Philips.

”There might be a few people who are concerned that a professional western scholar is to arrive to the Maldivies,” Sobah said.

Sobah said that as Salaf was a registered NGO,  it did not have to deal with “unlawful, unregistered and underground” groups.

”No one has officially complained about the event,” Sobah said. ”It is surprising that they fear to face us, and it is confusing because they use the internet to raise their voice while we are accessible easily anytime.”

Sobah said that the two visiting scholars, Dr Bilal Phillips and Dr Abdul Raheem Green, would deliver seven lectures on different topics.

”We are working to enhance the security and solving some other technical problems,” he said. ”We hope this event will be a very successful event.”

On May 5 Salaf has announced it would host ‘The Call’, a series of religious sermons to which it expects more than 10,000 people to attend.

Dr Bilal Philips was brought to the Maldives by Salaf last year. Many people attended the sermon and reportedly more than 100,000 people watched it via media.

The Maldives’ self-styled ‘underground feminist movement’ Rehendhi last week announced joint letter writing campaign with the ‘Enough is Enough’ group in protest against Sonee Company’s intention to sponsor the lecture.

They issued a press statement condemning Dr Philips’ preaching at last years’ Call, accusing him of “preaching that it is Islamic to marry off young girls as soon as they reached puberty, irrespective of their age.”

Sonee Company, reported by Rehendhi as one of the targets of the campaign, said it did not wish to comment on the matter at this time.

Correction: The original press statement from the Rehendhi group referred to ‘Sonee Company’, not ‘Sonee Hardware’ as previously stated in this article. Minivan News apologises for any confusion caused.


Lale school hosts Mathmania awards event

When one says Maths, fun and recreational are not the first words to come to mind.

However the recently held Mathmania contest by Lale International School provided just that to 1000 students from 11 schools, with a substantial prize money for the top three spots making it a very rewarding experience for the participants.

The prize ceremony took place at Holiday Inn last night. Students clad in traditional sarong shirt for boys and girls clad in libas greeted the invitees and participants at the entrance.

The ceremony started with the recitation of the Quran, after which the host for the ceremony, the head of English Department of Lale, Cheyne Webster took the stage.

Going into a brief description of how Mathmania took place early this year in participating schools like Ghiyasudeen, Majeediya, Imaadudeen, Hiriya among others, he said maths was used to “interest, engage, excite students”.

He alluded briefly to troubles faced by the school, saying that “2010 sees the school in a gradually accepting society” and went on to say that “in the face of adversity comes change. The storm clouds have passed and positive change is coming.”

Webster said that Lale was “a good school, with committed students and teachers.”

That commitment was evident through the ceremony, stretching to almost two hours, but nevertheless engaging and smooth, with a slide show of the official opening of Lale International school one year back, as well as photos of various activities.

The spacious classroom, colourful kindergarten playrooms and outdoor garden looks appealing. The students engaged in various activities, doing experiments in laboratory, field trips to resorts and islands, a visit to Fatih University.

Deputy Principal Latheefa Abdul Latheef said that “2010 is a year full of challenges” and that her role was “especially demanding.” She went on to say that “a bright future awaits Lale with the support of community, students and teachers.”

Deputy Minister for Education, Shifa Mohamed, thanked Lale for taking the initiative for holding Mathmania and inviting other schools to join.

She went on to note that it was evident that “Lale is trying hard to introduce an all round education”, and that this was the vision of the Education Ministry for other schools as well.

“We would like to see students that not only excel academically but are skillful and go on to be beneficial citizens of the country,” she said.

She spoke for a generation of Maldivians when she said during her study years she was not good at maths and “didn’t think it was interesting.”

She said she hoped that different teaching methods would now show students that it was quite an interesting subject.

For those who participated but didn’t win, she said “the fact that you were nominated from your school shows that you are quite good.”

Guiter in hand, grade eight student Nabeel was next on stage. Initially looking a bit shy, he morphed into a true performer once the song started.

While the school’s music teacher accompanying offstage, Nabeel enthralled the audience with a beautiful ballad, written by a fellow student.

Slides of the mathmania event in various schools followed. The classrooms and uniforms might have changed and also but the students looked engrossed in each photo.

The awards for the first 20 in the primary section of mathmania were next. Invitees from Education ministry, PTA members and Lale teachers were among those who gave away the prizes.

Before the first three spots was announced, grade seven student Toga came on stage.

Clad in a colourful traditional ‘hedhun buri’ with the veil incorporated into it, Toga hit all the right notes when she sang “There’s a Hero.”

A beaming Harvey Hassan from Jamaludeen School received the award for 3rd place, while Mismaah Abdulla of Iskandhar school and Malha Mohamed walked away with the second and first place, respectively.

The next batch of slides took away the breath of all those present. In an Olympiad which had 34 countries participating with 94 projects, student Mohamed Anas had his project selected.

A bio-fueled stirling engine was his submission. A video clip of how the engine worked using bio-waste, in this case sawdust, was briefly projected on the screen. The slide finished by asking for good luck wishes for the project which is going to be presented in Amsterdam this year.

In the secondary category five students from Muhyiddin, Imaadudeen, and Ghazee school jointly shared the 20th position prize.

The top three places went to students of Imadudeen. Yusra Waheed, Riham Abdulla and Aishath Janaan took first, second and third place.

After participatory certificates were given out to the schools who participated, the ceremony ended with a colourful performance by students.

Traditionally attired, students danced to a mix of old and new Dhivehi songs with the old poetry form ‘Raivaru’ thrown in for good effect.

If the mathmania and the ceremony is any indication, Lale International school does seem on the right path to putting the past behind and carving a bright future for itself.


Comment: An Evening with Mrs Naik

Ever since my tenth grade in lower secondary in 1982, I do not remember being in a room full of only women until Wednesday night. And now I have completed my forty-fourth year of living.

Wednesday night was womens’ night at the Islamic Centre. The occasion was a lecture by a Mrs Zakir Naik hosted by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. Her husband Dr Zakir Naik was invited by the ministry to the country to deliver Islamic lectures. And the couple, their son and three daughters were also involved.

The local media has over the past three weeks made headlines of Dr Naik’s visit to the country. Many locals seems to believe that Dr Naik, who is the founder of the Mumbai based channel, Peace TV is a renowned Islamic Scholar.

While I am under the impression that he is a medical doctor, one of the senior government officials referred to him as a tele-evangelist.

I believe since the nation converted from Buddhism to Islam in 1153, Islam has been fundamental to Maldivians. But lately, I have been aware that the word “Islam” has a special ring to it that it attracts, assembles, arouses and angers my country folk.

I have been long convinced that the power of Islam as the topnotch political power tool to mobilize the Maldivian masses cannot be overlooked. And while the Maldives struggles to move forward nursing its infant democracy and wounded economy, my eyes are fixed on the hands of the evil but the smart who hold Islam as a weapon as we close on 2013.

I find Islam enlightening, progressive and intriguing. Social justice is a passionate concept to me as much as I believe it is central to Islam. So I was at the lecture venue fifteen minutes before it started to learn from Mrs Naik about Islam.

When I arrived at the venue I was not surprised to be told that the main hall was full. The place was swarming with mostly black figures. Rows of chairs lined up on all possible space outside the hall and women were seated on all of them. Some were climbing up the stairs to the mosque above the hall.

I spotted some nervous officials belonging to the host. Obviously, they expected a large turnout and had made careful arrangements with two screens to display Mrs Naik for the people outside. But this response, I was sure, was unexpected.

I looked around. In addition to some officials from the ministry, the only men were some two dozen seated on the low walls in the compound.

I was lucky to get a seat in the main hall filled with nearly three hundred women. The majority was dressed in black. I counted ten wearing no scarf or buruga. The rest showed only their face and hands. Some showed nothing. I noticed three movie cameras operated by young ladies who I assume were journalists from the TV Maldives. The Islamic Ministry estimated 6000 women attended the function.

The evening began. One of the daughters of Mrs Naik recited Quruan. The next daughter, looking close to ten years recited a poem. It praised the hijab while outrightly insulted those who did not wear it.

Next we heard the introduction of our lecturer Mrs Farhat Naik.
We heard Mrs Naik is from Mumbai and has a masters degree in commerce. We were told she is a well known figure in the Islamic community and has traveled all over the world. We were told she lectured on Islam in countries such as the United States, Australia, Canada, etc. We heard she is a principal of one of the Islamic schools and Mr and Mrs Naik has even opened Islamic Schools.

What I do not remember hearing was her qualification in Islam and who gave it to her.

Mrs Naik took the microphone, standing in front of me. She was tall and a pleasant lady. She wore a black gown and a dark buruga and her face and hands were the only visible skin.

Hoping for some stimulating valuable information in Islam, I listened intently.

She started saying her topic for the night is “My purpose of life” and not “roles and responsibilities of women in Islam” as displayed behind her on a board.

The lecture went on for over an hour. My expectations turned to disappointment. And then, to concern.

The “academic lecture” that I expected turned out to be a memorized inconsistent contradicting jumble. It contained information downloaded from internet mixed with outdated and inappropriate examples that was pinched with selected verses from different chapters of Quruan and decorated with rhetoric. The “world famous Islamic Scholar” turned out to be a “performer” very suitable to school kids from primary to secondary. I later checked her quotes from Quruan and found they were used indeed out of context.

Mrs Naik first quote from Quruan was 51:56. She said “We have created man and jinn only for the purpose of Ibadhaa (worship).” She interpreted it saying “worship is what pleases Allah and our salvation and success depends on Allah being pleased.”

I checked a translation of the verse. It has “worship” replaced with “service” and the verse had a very strong yet broad meaning that encompass the diverse activities of all human life. To my dismay, Mrs Naik’s entire interpretation was in a total vaccum where human life, activities and times were concerned.

In her speech Mrs Naik preached us to be Allah-centred and said the purpose of a Muslim’s life should be to pleasure Allah. She preached not to have meaningless purposes in life and elaborated it with an example of a dog chasing a car on the highway. She came up with a word for each letter in Islam. She said “I” is for Quruan and Sunnah, “S” is for specific goals, “L” is for lucrative – in this world and afterlife, “M” is to measure how much is achieved and “I” is for intentions – which is to pleasure Allah” and “C” is for consistency. She did not tell us how a Muslim could measure the achievements made toward the goal of pleasing Allah.

She preached the values of having strong desires, having focus, putting consistent efforts, disregarding worldly ambitions and not to let society decide what a Muslim should become. She elaborated it with the story of the 1960 Olympic medalist Wilma Rudolph. But she never mentioned the relationship between Wilma’s success and her worship to Allah.

I wonder whether Mrs Naik, as an Islamic scholar did some research on our 100 percent Muslim country prior to her visit. Obviously, she was not aware that murder and stabbing are nearly a weekly affair which the Maldivians are increasingly getting de-sensitized to. She preached repentance and elaborated it with a story of a man who committed 100 murders and fell dead on the way to repent but went to heaven because his intent to repent preceded his death.

Mrs Naik went on to say “do not judge people on what people think of you”. She said the message given by girls who wear hijab is “We are prohibited” while the message girls who wear skirts give is “You are invited”. Is Mrs Naik reinforcing her audience to harass girls who do not wear hijab? Doesn’t she know that in Maldives there are many women who do not wear hijab? Is Mrs Naik saying that harassment, abuse and rape do not occur in communities where women wear hijab? What data does she have to support her argument? Mrs Naik asked her audience to imagine a world where all women wear hijab saying that there would be no such crimes as harassment, rape, abuse, etc. Does she know that rape and sex abuse often happen within family? As a scholar how did she come up with such an assumption?

Mrs Naik expressed her distaste for western values and said “if we copy the west we have products of the west”. I wonder what she was thinking when she sat watching her two daughters emulate a rap song at her microphone after her talk.

Mrs Naik called the TV an “idiot box”. She urged her audience to throw it and switch on the Islamic TV mentioning Mr Naik’s Peace TV. She said cartoons are made to brainwash the children and spoil generations. She disregarded the positive values put across to children through cartoons and the valuable information received through those such as the National Geographic Channel. Her rhetoric seemed to totally disregard modern technological advances and any child’s basic right to walk the path to wisdom.

She said all TV channels except Islamic ones ‘are designed to stop the (imminent) revolution that Muslim Ummah is going to bring to the world’. I saw this message in the context of her entire lecture that can be summarised as, “Allah created humankind to worship Him and while everyone should have a purpose in life it should be the jihad of converting all human kind into Islam.”

I wonder why Islamic scholars always continue to portray Allah in the image of a human being – a human being who gets pleasure from the praise and deeds of his slaves and rewards in return. I wonder how the audience will perceive the divine when Mrs Naik told a story involving a clash between the Angel of Paradise and the Angel of Curse on who would take out the soul of a dead person. She said to determine who gets the soul, Allah asked them to find out which distance is longer – between where the man was when he decided to repent and the spot where his dead body lay or from that spot to where he was going to repent?

I wonder whether a true Islamic scholar trying to win the hearts and minds of twenty-first century Maldivians should talk in such terms.

The superscript of the Naik’s whole visit was revealed when Mrs Naik answered a question from the audience who asked her where she can provide Islamic education to her children. She answered by telling that if she wanted an Islamic school why doesn’t she get together people who want it and call her husband for it at his lecture following evening.

When I left the hall close to eleven thirty, I saw a state car and two security officers in full gear waiting outside in the drive way.

And my mind struggled to reconcile the cost – benefit ratio of this enchanting evening with Mrs. Naik.

But I know, tonight is an accomplishment for those. They’ve seen the blue print for the transformation they require. And this transformation is the final step to the Rule by the Ulaama.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to


GIP ‘not informed’ about termination of coalition agreement

Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan said this morning that his party had not been officially informed of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s decision to tear up its coalition agreement with Waheed’s party, the Gaumee Itthihaad Party (GIP).

Twenty-one members of the MDP’s national council voted in favour of the move, out of 23 present. The council also called on President Mohamed Nasheed to remove all GIP members from ministerial positions. Vice President Waheed and Education Minister Dr Mustafa Luthfy are the only two GIP members remaining in Cabinet, after Nasheed dismissed Minister for Economic Development Mohamed Rasheed several weeks ago.

“We no longer trust these guys,” Haleem said. “Our coalition partner is working with the opposition – I think [Waheed] will be joining [the opposition] Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) very soon. I hope so, it would be best for him.”

Haleem added that he hoped the president would “obey” the MDP Council and remove the GIP members from government: “I hope so. MDP’s national council is one of the most powerful arms of the MDP,” Haleem said.

Dr Waheed recently raised the ire of MDP supporters when he held an apparently clandestine meeting with senior leadership of the DRP, including Umar Naseer and MPs Ali Waheed, Ahmed Nihan and Ahmed Mahlouf.

“I think the political sitaution requires that we talk to each other and work together,” Dr Waheed told Minivan News today. “There are bills we have to get through [parliament], especially revenue bills to address the deficit. I believe it is important, and I think I am in a position to speak. I met with opposition MPs partly at their request, and I indicated I would meet them.”

He said he was surprised at the inflamed response from MDP supporters – “I did not realise this would attract so much attention from the press and MDP activists,” he said.

Dr Waheed said the reaction of both parties following the meeting was “not helpful.”

“Under the current circumstances everyone is trying to score political points,” he said.

GIP had not been formally informed of MDP’s decision last night to sever the coalition, he noted.

“If this is true then of course we are concerned. We believe we have a valid agreement to work with MDP together until the end of term.”

The removal of GIP members from government would be an “unfortunate” outcome, Dr Waheed said.

“I had expected some kind of discussion. Since we were not consulted when the Economic Development [Mohamed Rasheed] Minister was dismissed, I felt I had grounds to talk, especially since no reason given except ‘political circumstances’.”

Dr Waheed called for discussions, concluding that “we can’t go on pretending the country has no problems, because that will not solve them.”

The President has not yet said whether he will take the advice of MDP’s national council. Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair was not responding at time of press.