Comment: The enigma of the Adhaalath Party and their radical politics

In the autumn of the first elected democratic government, the Adhaalath Party (AP) brought in major radical reforms and sidelined their original party leadership. The freedom they enjoyed after the 2008 elections became a chance for opportunists among them to seek personal vendettas in politics.

The radicalisation of the AP became most prominent when they gathered on the 23rd of December in 2011 to honour and glorify Allah by becoming the judges of Allah. This reminded me of the assassin who brutally murdered Caliph Ali Ibn Abi Tholib saying, “There is no judge other than Allah” portraying himself as the judge in killing the leader of Muslims.

In a similar fashion, the 23rd December alliance portrayed themselves as judges in becoming the triggermen for ousting their ‘un-Islamic’ president, proclaiming him an infidel. These repercussions were the result of a speech given by President Mohamed Nasheed in Denmark to a predominantly non-Muslim audience regarding the growing fundamentalism of Islam.

The gist of his speech suggested that the way the holy Quran and Prophets words or Hadhith was interpreted by some sheikhs created polarisation among Muslims – a theory widely agreed upon by several Muslim scholars around the world. The radical ideology created by the AP, however, was that they were the only learned Islamic scholars who could glorify Islam – in a country which has been practicing Islam for hundreds of years without any radicalisation or polarisation.

The opposition of Nasheed’s government at the time intelligently utilised the AP as bait in instigating continuous and consistent public strikes, by deceiving the minds of faithful Muslims. The AP was given the role of labelling the government un-Islamic and creating fear among the faithful Muslims that ‘God’s treasured nation’ with one hundred percent Muslims will become a Christian or an atheist nation.

The public became more engaged when small radical groups sponsored by envious politicians came out in public demanding religious freedom. The fall of democracy began with more and more hatred and with the charismatic sheikhs becoming highly pragmatic and vocal against Nasheed -calling him and his regime un-Islamic, accusing him of forming allegiances with Christians and Jews.

The more moderate sheikhs kept their mouths shut and hence did an injustice to naive Islam-loving citizens. One exception was an apolitical sheikh who, through media, spread a silent interpretation in which he claimed the ousting of the leader of a nation who is in Islamic faith is against prophet’s teaching. However, the media turned a blind eye to these words, being more interested in bad news – as bad news is always good news for them.

On the February 7th of 2012 the storm struck and the elected president was ousted. The AP completed their assignment with high distinction. Hence they became powerful and vocal, and got a fair share from the government labelled as a “coup regime” by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

To most people, the AP was Sheikh Imran, the ‘mighty mouth piece’ of AP who seemingly acts as God’s judge in giving verdicts to defame their opponents as infidels. The people became nostalgic and now could not decide what was right or wrong. The arrogance, pride, and prejudice the sheikh holds against his opponents in fact became so controversial that many in the public came to regard him as a disgrace to Islam. The irony was that no sheikh or learned scholar was able to criticise him. The reality was that most of the learned Islamic scholars were behind the AP, supporting them and looking for opportunities to promote their political careers.

When the time came for parties to prepare for 2013 presidential elections, the AP had a misconception that they were the playmakers in the game, as they believed their high distinction in toppling governments could always change things in their favour. However, the incumbent president was not well convinced and disagreed with them. The opportunists among them demanded large amounts of money according to pundits, which turned off Dr Mohamed Waheed.

This rejection led them to join with Ibrahim Gasim.  They went through the first round with Gasim and were unable to beat the MDP. The obvious second round dragged them to a dilemma and they could not keep their word. It was strange for such people acting on behalf of God and claiming to glorify Islam to show such hypocrisy in their decision-making.

The watchful public then started feeling disgust over the so called truthful, honest, Islam-glorifying sheikhs. The public in fact saw them as unable to make up their mind and lacking in any principles or political ideologies, but rather becoming hitch-hikers and opportunists.

To make matters worse, the AP became much weaker in the new government than they had been under the governance of their arch-rival Nasheed. To their dismay, the old loyal sheikh and classmate of Gayoom – who was cartooned and lampooned by AP sheikhs previously – became their superior in a ministry they had sole control of in the past.

The hitch-hikers finally realised their position when their coalition partners defied their request to allocate some constituents for them to compete for parliament. For them the AP was just a parasite and a pain in their rears. Overwhelmed with lack of support they contested against their partners with the hope of winning over them. However, the already intimidated public rejected their candidates, with the exception of a famous woman with a high reputation for being modest and open minded.

The AP have gradually understood their position in the coalition and have become so weak, they now have to bow down to politicians far more ‘un-Islamic’ than Nasheed. The dilemmas and the enigmas now made them see that ‘There is no judge other than Allah’ and no one can claim to be a judge on behalf of Allah.

The educated elite behind AP want a reform, but regaining public trust is an issue they must overcome. To make matters worse, all major political parties want them to be sidelined as radical fundamentalist Islam is not accepted anywhere in the world, and the supreme leader of the PPM has a powerful aversion to sheikhs. Most of the AP sheikhs also have gone into hiding from public, realising that they had abused a naive public into believing an ideology they created with no basis or principle.

Their arrogance has led several sheikhs allied with them to fall silent and perhaps even to repent for their mistakes in throwing the state in to chaos in the name of Islam. For AP to rise up they need to create a political ideology to play politics equally well with their competitors. The use of Islam, and claiming to be the sole authority of glorifying Islam is no longer a slogan they can sell to public as their competitors now all have equally learned sheikhs with them.

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Comment: The green-eyed judiciary and the green constitution

“If civilizations is to survive, one is driven to radical views. I do not mean driven to violence. Violence always compromises or ruins the cause it means to serve: it produces as much wrong as it tries to remedy. The state, for example, is always with us. Overthrow it and it will comeback in another form, quite possible worse. It is a necessary evil– a monster that continually has to be tamed, so that it serves us rather than devours us. We can’t do without it, neither can we trust it” (Quoted from Fiji times 17th January 2007, in Firth, Fraenkel and Lal, 2009).

Formation of judiciary

The Maldives judiciary has a long history of being under the control of the powerful and rich. In the olden days kings decided verdicts while later it came under the influence of dictatorial regime. Democracy however brought a new frontier of judiciary with a presupposition of being independent, transparent and impartial. This, however, is far from reality today and it seems judiciary is the biggest impediment for a true democracy in the small nation.

The judiciary has its evil in the way it was formed in 2008 to ratify the Article 285 of the green constitution. The Judicial Service Commission at that time also was hijacked by the bench of interim Supreme Court. Furthermore they undermined the constitution by self reorganising to re-establish as the permanent bench. Some from the bar and the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) immediately recognised the evil deeds of the then chief justice and immediately went on strike and locked the Supreme Court.

Even then, the current government – in opposition at the time – were sympathising with the bench and was in favour of its actions. The ramifications of this led to the formation of a bench in a haste in an extraordinary session of the Majlis. The bench formed was mainly of judges with strong sharia background with not much academic exposure to common laws practiced used in most civilised democratic countries. In addition, judge’s appointments had questionable integrity related issues. This was confirmed and well proven by the then JSC member Aishath Velazinee, and was circulated in the media.

The Litmus test

Major litmus test of judiciary came with the overthrowing of the democratically elected government in 2012. The bench in particular was faced with a major test of integrity and of serving justice. However the complacency shown by whole bench in the events before, during and after the toppling of the government was dubious.  Many suspicious people were convinced of their romance with the old dictatorial regime elements. The grassroots ran havoc on streets with no sense or awareness of rule of law.

Grassroots were blamed for attacks on law enforcement infrastructure, while their agony and pain was overlooked. Grassroots were blamed for not controlling their temper while temperament of elements of uniformed bodies that attacked civilians was justified. Also the grassroots with no sense of rule of law were led to a dilemma by not being provided guidance and legality in the toppling of the government. Instead the chief justice’s immediate action was to swear in the incumbent vice president who was alleged to be a major player of the “coup”.

This response immediately legitimised the actions of uniformed bodies before, during, and after the coup event. It also gave coup perpetrators and sympathisers powers leading to further repercussions. Till this day, the elements of uniformed bodies guilty of several crimes committed on day of coup and the following day remain immune to justice. For the grassroots and the watchful minds a clear fraternity between the judiciary and coup perpetrators was obvious.

Winners and losers

In essence the ‘coup’ of 2012 became a winner for the judiciary which was faced with heavy criticism, during the autumn of the democracy. Some even believe the fall of democracy has been a making of the judiciary. Soon after the coup the judiciary started enjoying a honeymoon, with overwhelming immunity and impunity. Their romance with dictatorial elements alleged to have perpetrated the coup, lead to erosion of rule of law and justice.

Justice in the country became a joke even to the layman. Any coup collaborators or sympathisers were proven innocent before going into courts – albeit of their corruption allegations. Anyone who was against the coup became guilty before appearing in court.  Day by day the grassroots became aware of the romancing of the judiciary with a particular political group. The public lost their trust in the whole judiciary. This was compounded by the dictatorial nature of judicial watch dog which from day one acted as the white cloak hiding the bench of its dirt.

In 2013, the election became a war of ‘coup’ perpetrators and their allies and the rest of the public. In a first round the public showed a relentless and overwhelming majority for the MDP. Fear began looming within the bench and their allies, enjoying the sweet honeymoon. The MDP became more vocal on reforming judiciary and garnered more support.  The looming fear within the judiciary and bench became obvious when they intervened to an internationally acclaimed transparent electoral process using baseless allegations.

Their allies in law enforcement and government by then cooked up a blatant litany of a report regarding elections. This became the catalyst for the bench to annul the elections, jeopardising one of the best electoral processes in the history of the nation. The grassroots later found the fallacies of this report which was heavily criticised by the Elections Commission. The election was won by the judiciary and the bench, as it turned in their favour.

The MDP garnered further support and strength from grass roots and kept their spirits alive by being consistent with their pledge to reform judiciary. Fear lurking within the bench again awakened.  Fear of the MDP winning the Maldives Majlis and the bench getting dissolved was not far from reality. The bench’s fears led to the utilisation of new tactics which involved becoming the jury, the judge, and the plaintiff in a case which even the layman and grassroots understood as injustice.

Finally the verdict to dismiss the president of the Elections Commission was given by the bench. The verdict was a clear abrogation of the green constitution. The bench once again laid down a path to remain.

The enigma

The constitution turning the judiciary evil and opening the Pandora’s Box is a misconception. The irony lies in the establishment of the bench, in abrogation of the green constitution. The root cause of evil is undermining the constitution by Majlis during the formation of the bench as reiterated by Velazinee. Additionally the international community turns a blind eye to the whole saga of appalling events.

The reactions and actions of the bench and JSC have further convinced the grassroots of their deception. One’s actions become a blessing for others in disguise. The response of the bench may garner further support for the MDP. Their slogan to reform judiciary may perhaps make them the winners, sooner or later. However, the players who made the judiciary green eyed and then white-washed it, are yet to be discovered.