Comment: Anwar al-Awlaki’s killing is unjustified

Barack Obama’s administration and lawmakers may cheer the killing of US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. But this is not how legal scholars, libertarians and millions of Muslims feel.

Al-Awlaki, born in New Mexico on 22 April 1971, was an American Islamic scholar who was an engineer and educator by training. He was killed in a drone attack in a remote Yemeni town on 30 September 2011 by US forces.

To some, he is a Muslim hero, a mujahid (fighter for the sake of Allah) and a great Islamic scholar. His lectures have inspired hundreds of followers. One reason why many people admired him was that he was talented in delivering Islamic lectures in fluent English. This made him famous not only in US and Europe, but also in the Maldives.

There are only few Maldivians who agree with US government officials’ allegations against al-Awlaki. According to US president Obama, he was the leader of external operations for the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a statement which many Maldivians openly deny.

“The death of Awlaki is a major blow to Al-Qaeda’s most active operational affiliate,” said Obama after the drone attack. “He took the lead in planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans … and he repeatedly called on individuals in the United States and around the globe to kill innocent men, women and children to advance a murderous agenda.”

According to US officials al-Awlaki allegedly preached to a number of al-Qaeda members and affiliates. Among them were three of September 11 hijackers, alleged “Christmas Day bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and alleged Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan.

US government has made a list of allegations against al-Awlaki, but none of these allegations was ever made in court.

Al-Awlaki was an American citizen. The Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution explicitly guarantees the right to life of American citizens in the absence of due process of law to determine when to withdraw that right. The Fifth Amendment stipulates that no citizen shall be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”.

Article 11(a) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence”.

But al-Awlaki was executed without any charges, without a trial or without giving any chance to defend. Even Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was given his constitutional rights before his execution. This raises questions about the legal authority under which the US government can target its own citizens for assassination.

Al-Awlaki’s father Nasser al-Awlaki has publicly announced his son’s innocence.
“I am now afraid of what they will do with my son,” he said speaking to CNN earlier. “He’s not Osama bin Laden, they want to make something out of him that he’s not.”
“He has been wrongly accused, it’s unbelievable. He lived his life in America; he’s an all-American boy”.

US officials have continuously accused al-Awlaki for preaching radical Islam, which gives endorsement for Jihad (struggle) and violence. This inspired new recruits to Islamist militancy, especially though internet (YouTube), according to US officials. His videos were removed from YouTube on 3 November 2010.

This is the only evidence which the US government has presented to the media against al-Awlaki in order to prove he is a radical, an extremist and a terrorist.

If this is the case, the US may label not only al-Awlaki but other Islamic scholars in future for giving “radical” sermons, because sermons are based on the verses from Quran and Hadith of prophet Muhammed (pbuh).

In Quran, there are nearly 41 verses which speak about Jihad, and many more verses against Jews and Christians.

For example, Quran 4:89: “They wish that you reject Faith, as they have rejected (Faith), and thus that you all become equal (like one another). So take not Auliya’ (protectors or friends) from them, till they emigrate in the Way of Allah (to Muhammad pbuh). But if they turn back (from Islam), take (hold) of them and kill them wherever you find them, and take neither Auliya’ (protectors or friends) nor helpers from them”.

Similarly, Quran 2:191: “And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah is worse than killing. And fight not with them at Al-Masjid-al-Haram (the sanctuary at Makkah), unless they (first) fight you there. But if they attack you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers”.

Al-Awlaki’s story has told the world today that US government is the judge, jury and executor of all Muslims.

Ibrahim Mohamed is a Parliamentary Reporter at the Peoples Majlis of the Maldives.

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 [email protected]


Comment: Is peace merely the absence of violent conflict?

Hundreds of peals of islands, azure lagoons, and white sandy beaches scattered over 90,000 square kilometres in the middle of Indian Ocean, making up the Muslim nation the Maldives. This tropical archipelago is isolated from the rest of the world, attracting thousands of high-class honeymooners, holiday makers and celebrities.

The Maldives has been branded internationally as a luxury tourist destination by selling the three products gifted by nature: sun, sand and sea. The Maldives is reputed internationally for its peace, tranquillity and harmony, unlike the killings, attacks and explosions seen in some of the conflicted areas like Jammu, Kashmir and Afghanistan.

Maldives is formed of 1,190 islands, with a 100 percent Muslim population of 300,000. Around 200 islands are inhabited, and nearly 100 islands are developed as luxury tourist resorts.

Political instability

The concealed dark side of the Maldives was exposed to the world in 2003, when a prisoner in Maafushi Jail – the largest prison in the Maldives – was beaten to death.

For the first time in the recent history, public unrest rocked the country, and the headlines of the Maldive politics printed in the international media. The incident triggered a prison riot, killing three more inmates and injuring many more. Further, multiple protests erupted in the capital city Male’, and blazing fires in several state-owned buildings and properties.

The protests and demonstrations gave an impression to the world that although the tourists were invited to rest on the beaches in the Maldives, there was no real peace for the citizens during Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s regime, had ruled since November 11, 1978. During his dictatorial regime, political opponents’ movements were suppressed and there was no free media. The citizens were controlled by the state, the same way we see in communist regimes like Libya and North Korea. The executive, legislative and judiciary were under direct control of the president.

Journey for a democracy

On 12 August 2004, thousands of frustrated Maldivians gathered in the Republic Square of the capital Male’ demanding freedom, the same manner in which we have recently witnessed gatherings in Egypt’s Tahrir Square to oust the dictator Hosni Mubarak.

To disperse the crowd, a state of emergency was declared by the Gayoom’s government and mass arrests were made. This led to heavy criticism internationally, forcing Gayoom to launch a reform agenda.

During the reform process, the new changes introduced by Gayoom included appointing young intellectuals to the cabinet, establishing independent institutions (like the Human Rights Commission, Elections Commission, Judicial Services Commission, Civil Service Commission, Anti-Corruption Commission and Police Integrity Commission), drafting a new penal code and giving the authority to form political parties through the parliament (Peoples Majlis). The first registered political party is the current ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

The new reforms improved human rights, governance and press freedom. The ratification of the new constitution on August 7, 2008, which was drafted by the constitutional assembly, guaranteed greater rights for citizens like freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and right to information.

Mainly, the new constitution had separated the state into three powers, executive, legislative and judiciary.

The voting results of the first multi-party elections in October 2008 proved that the people had really wanted a change. The ruler of 30 years was ousted by his political opponent, MDP candidate Mohamed Nasheed, the current president.


Today, some people make the justification that the countries which are not experiencing violent conflict, like Saudi Arabia, are peaceful nations. But this is a false assumption. This is the peace which is portrayed by the media; giving the readers, listeners and viewers a feeling that violent conflict only obstructs peace.

But realistically, the situation cannot be understood by just a shallow exploration. But it should be analysed much deeper and more broadly to know the real situation. This is what Maldives history has taught us.

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 [email protected]


Comment: What happens if we leave Afghanistan?

This article was originally published on the website of the Islamic Foundation of the Maldives. Republished with permission.

A month ago I was shocked to hear the news of an 18-year-old woman from Afghanistan who was punished by slicing her ears and nose, for running away from her abusive husband’s house.

The news was carried around the world by the leading news agencies for many days, especially the western media. A few days later, I was shopping at Ashrafee Bookshop – one of the largest bookstores in Male’ – and happened to see the mind-disturbing image of the abused woman named Aisha.

The image was published on the cover page of the TIME magazine. I did not have the courage to gaze at the horrifying picture for long, because the beautiful girl’s nose was missing. A maroon coloured shawl partially covered her head while her ears were covered with the beautifully combed black hair.

The image would certainly create hatred against the Taliban, the previous rulers of Afghanistan, before the US forces occupied the country to hunt Osama Bin Laden. Like any other reader, the bold letters on the image also caught my attention. It read: “What happens if we leave Afghanistan?”.

The message was very clear.

What I understood from it was that if US forces withdrew from Afghanistan, the country’s condition would worsen as seen in the picture. Every woman would be abused likewise, as we see Aisha in the image.

The article was written by the famous writer Aryn Baker. I read the whole article twice. My conclusion is that the purpose of publishing the article was to criticise Islamic Sharia and to blame the Taliban because they are gaining victory over the US forces in many of the districts in Afghanistan.

One line in the article read: “Under the Taliban, women accused of adultery were stoned to death; those who flashed a bare ankle were whipped”.

The whole article was in favour of Islamaphobia, and creating abhorrence against Islamic customs, principles and jurisprudence. The article was very much in support of the occupied forces while failing to bring all the sides of the story.

Although I am not a professional journalist, I had the opportunity to report from Pakistan and Indian controlled Kashmir. To my knowledge all the parties involved in a sensitive story should be given a fair chance to respond.

But the writer has failed to bring the comments of Aisha’s husband and in-laws, and Taliban. The whole article was single sourced, breaking journalism ethics. It may be hard or impossible to get an interview from the victim’s husband and in-laws. But if the writer wished, she could have got a comment from Taliban.

The writer also could have mentioned Taliban’s denial statement made through internet. The whole story is totally a biased one. Aisha’s case may be true, or it is possible that the story was created. There is no way to prove the accusations made by Aisha.

She might have been abused by her family or by muggers. Who knows what is behind the picture? Aisha might have blamed the Taliban by posing for the cover image of TIME, as it may be her only chance for reconstructive surgery.

In the editorial, Managing Editor Richard Stengel wrote: “Aisha will head to the US for reconstructive surgery sponsored by the Grossman Burn Foundation, a humanitarian organisation in California. We are supporting the effort.”

This statement proves that TIME has bought the story by funding for the surgery to some extent.

Since US and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001, hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed and many were made disabled by ‘accidental’ attacks. But these incidents have failed to catch the attention of the international news media.

On 19 September, the Washington Post reported that the US military was investigating a case where three civilians were killed for fun by a group of US soldiers. The newspaper also reported that the culprits even posed for pictures with the amputated body parts of the dead Afghans.

I want to question the western media as to why stories involving abusive acts of US military are not covered in the same manner as the story of Aisha? Like Afghanistan, the unlawful invasion by the US has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraq. A report published by Iraq Body Count Project (IBC), an independent UK-US group reveals that nearly 1,989 civilians have been killed in Iraq only in 2010 by coalition military action, Iraqi insurgency and excess crimes.

According to IBC, 106,072 civilians have been killed since Iraq was invaded in 2003. This is also an under estimated figure as the information was based only on those reported by media organisations. IBC project’s director John Sloboda has said earlier “We’ve always said our work is an undercount, you can’t possibly expect that a media-based analysis will get all the death.”

As witnessed in other countries, the US Embassy is investing money on lots of projects in the Maldives under the banner of promoting democracy, human rights and free media. But the reality is that there is a hidden agenda behind these investments.

The purpose is to influence and control the country through modern methods of colonialism. My answer to the messy writer is, if you (US and other coalition forces) leave Afghanistan, tens of thousands of lives would be saved, so leave Afghanistan and other Muslim countries.

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 [email protected]

Comment: Can we live in paradise without our Bangladeshi workers?

In our little country we have many friends from neighboring countries. I always think about them and encounter them when I go for my frequent coffee or tea or breakfast at the various cafes, kadas and hotaas and restaurants. Most of the time, I see them in ‘hotaas’ (cafe/eatery).

It is not a surprise when you think about why there is such an influx of legal and illegal immigrant workers, and the reasons they come to Maldives

Discrimination towards certain types of manual jobs such as rubbish collection and construction labor, and a young population with no interest in such work, is one reason perhaps. But also the greedy business people who can save their pennies easily by getting cheap labor may be another cause.

No matter whether they are illegal or legal, or whichever nationality, they are in desperate conditions. They do donkey days of work and get only one holiday in the week, which of course is evident when we walk around Male’ on a Friday evening.

Whenever I enter a hotaa they usually come and ask what I need. Sometimes when I tell them cool water in Dhivehi they bring normal water and vice versa. I am not sure whether it is because they don’t understand the Dhivehi language or because they have a motive of getting satisfaction by being irritating and assertive.

Some customers talk to them in a raised voice, with threatening vulgar Dhivehi words, and treat them in a more unethical manner which is inhumane.

No wonder why many of us Maldivians find it irritating to be polite and thankful to people who serve us.

Maybe Maldivians have become such arrogant and impolite people because they may feel disgusting to thank a dirty manual laborer.

Some even avoid these friends out of consideration for hygiene. It is of no surprise that such tough men, who work like donkeys without any breaks to refresh themselves, will of course smell like goats. Moreover, not being wealthy enough to afford deodorant or good quality soap with their earnings is another reason. Or perhaps not being provided with enough freshwater to cleanse their body in their traditional bathing style in rivers, as their employers don’t like to see a fat water bill.

Strangely nobody bothers about what goes on in the kitchen of the hotaa, except when an occasional hair in a bajiyaa or a piece of boakibaa is evident while savoring the hot and spicy delicacies. Many such kitchens are infested by roaches and rodent aliens as well, and our friends never bother to kill or chase them.

Maybe they feel empathy towards such aliens in their surroundings and want to show others it is inhumane to victimise God’s creations.

Well it’s of no surprise as the hotaa is both bedroom and bathroom, as well as hotaa. In the night our friends who are not given places to sleep put tables in the hotaa together and spread a sheet on them and sleep on these tables.

Sometimes their washed clothes, including their undies, may be seen hanging on a rope in the corner of kitchen.

Well, still they are happy and continue to enjoy the day’s heat and occasional rain and the tropical climate. Maldives of course is paradise to a person who only enjoys the physical environment – but the social environment, especially in Male’, is devastatingly unsuitable for living.

My dear bondhus and bhais and machaas and mahathiyaas, without your ways and your life and your labour, how could we ever live in this Paradise?

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 [email protected]