Democracy suffers in Maldives in the face of rising fundamentalism: Asia Sentinel

The Indian Ocean paradise Maldives, until recently a moderate Muslim state, is the latest Asian country to witness a troubling rise in ultraconservative Wahhabi Islam imported from the Middle East, writes Annapoorna Karthika for the Asia Sentinel.

On June 2, Ismail Rasheed, popularly known as ‘Hilath,’ was attacked outside his home when his throat was slit through his trachea, missing a vital artery by millimetres. Rasheed, an outspoken blogger advocating freedom of religion and a fierce critic of the growing religious extremism in the archipelago country, is expected to survive the near-fatal attempt on his life, the second.

The gruesome assault on Rasheed cannot be treated as an isolated episode. It is an upshot of the rising religious radicalization in Maldives, whose constitution does not allow any national to practice a religion other than Islam.

Maldives, like many other countries in the world, fits a description of democracy in which popular attention to real democracy remains constrained, with the government paying only lip service to its forms but not its core values. According to the scholar Amitai Etzioni, the world today conflates its understanding of democracy with liberalism. The casting of votes by the people of a territory toward electing a government is indispensable for a flourishing democracy irrespective of the commitment of the elected government toward liberal principles such as individual’s freedom of speech and expression, indispensable civil liberties and rights of individuals.

In Maldives, the parliament’s decision to create a multiparty system in 2005 was upheld as significant progress in welcoming democracy to the country. In this regard, the emergence of the conservative Adhaalath party is criticized to have contributed toward the precarious swelling of religious intolerance, which threatens the realization of substantive democracy in Maldives. Although many scholars believe in the compatibility between Islam and liberal democracy, the Wahhabi movement in Maldives has been able to radicalize the religion by encouraging the use of violence to suppress voices of dissent.

Yet Maldives continues to be called a democracy. The forthcoming days are critical to see if they affirm the fundamentalist belief that democracy is a scourge to the freedom and individual rights of Maldivians.

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4 thoughts on “Democracy suffers in Maldives in the face of rising fundamentalism: Asia Sentinel”

  1. I cannot understand why and how Maldives is called a democracy. You are anything but a democracy. You have just deposed a democratically elected president, you have some of the most discriminatory religious laws in the world, you have no human rights in the real sense of the word and you discriminate against your own people in not allowing freedom of worship. Most non muslim Maldivians (Trivandrum has thousands) are driven out of the country to seek shelter in India and Sri Lanka.
    You are a backward third world religious theocracy, a bit like Iran, but you believe you are the right muslims (sunnis) and they are the wrong muslims (shias). This us and them crap is like our own caste system.

  2. @Indira NewDelhi on Sat, 30th Jun 2012 12:14 AM

    True. On point.
    But we would also like to be called a democracy and project a view of development and open culture.

    In reality, this will never happen in this generation.

  3. @ Ismail Nazim
    You will never be a real democracy because you are sunni muslims.....probably the most intolerant religious sect in the world today.
    You need to learn to walk before you can learn to run.....take it slowly now....give some freedom to your women.....then show some tolerance towards the 'wrong kind of muslims' aka shais, ahmaddiyas and sufis. When you have reached that goal you can start to show some tolerance towards other will take about 200 years to achieve this if you start now.
    We Indians are therefore at least 200 years ahead of you.
    If the vast majority of Indians were sunni muslims.....God forbid.....we would also be stuck in a seventh century time warp like yourselves.

  4. Here we go again on religious debate ! What makes me laugh most is one claiming there's is the only one and all the rest are fantasies or conspiracies ? Excuse me, which one is not a conspiracy may I ask ?


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