The darker side of the Maldives: The Independent

Recent weeks have put a spotlight on Islamic fundamentalism in the Maldives after a 15-year-old girl who had been repeatedly raped by her stepfather was sentenced to 100 lashes for ‘fornication’,” writes Eric Randolph for UK-based newspaper, The Independent.

“A petition by the global advocacy group Avaaz has been signed by more than two million people demanding a tourist boycott until the flogging sentence is annulled.

In a rare interview at his home this week, President Mohammed Waheed told The Independent that he strongly opposes the court ruling.

“This case should not have come to the courts at all. We see this girl as a victim,” he said, adding that he has set up a committee to “understand what went wrong”.

But that sits awkwardly with his recent decision to enter into a coalition with the religious Adhaalath party with elections to be held in September.

In a recent statement, Adhaalath backed the flogging, saying: “The purpose of penalties like these in Islamic shariah is to maintain order in society and to save it from sinful acts. We must turn a deaf ear to the international organisations which are calling to abolish these penalties.”

Few of the million visitors to the Maldives each year see this side of the country. Most are whisked off to uninhabited resort islands before even setting foot on the crowded, alcohol-free capital of Male’.  But the flogging case was not an isolated incident – Islamic hardliners, many trained in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, have become a shadowy but powerful presence here.

They are blamed for a raid on the national museum last year in which a priceless collection of ancient Buddhist artefacts was destroyed. They are also thought to be behind the killing in October of a member of parliament who had spoken out against extremism. The police have made little progress in either case.

Religious conservatives were also the driving force behind weeks-long protests that toppled the country’s first Democratic President, Mohamed Nasheed, in February last year.
Mr Nasheed’s election in 2008 had ended 30 years of dictatorship, but his liberal, Western style was used by opponents to paint him as un-Islamic – even a secret Christian. Although Mr Nasheed resigned on live television, he later claimed it was done “with a gun to my head” and that he was the victim of a coup.

The new President says the changeover was perfectly legal. But eyebrows were raised when he gave ministerial posts to the son and daughter of the former dictator Maumoon Gayoom, and chose three religious leaders from the Adhaalath party for his cabinet, even though the party holds no seats in parliament.

Dr Waheed defended his choice this week, saying: “They want to ensure Islamic values are protected. We are all working with that in mind.”

Out on one of the Maldives’ 200 inhabited islands, Mr Nasheed and members of his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) were back on the campaign trail last week, hoping they can regain through the ballot box what was lost to the mob.

On most islands he receives a hero’s welcome, still the man who endured torture and years behind bars to bring democracy to the country. But this day’s campaigning brought him to the island of Huraa: as stunning as the rest, with its turquoise waters, palm trees and white sands, but a stronghold of conservative forces.

Women greeted Mr Nasheed with a table of whisky bottles to imply his alleged love of alcohol.

As he tried to address a small crowd in the town hall, they stood outside shrieking maniacally in an attempt to drown him out. Attempts to approach them for their views almost triggered a riot.”

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4 thoughts on “The darker side of the Maldives: The Independent”

  1. Nasheed stories can not believe and he will say something and his will do something else . That is how far he can go.

    There are no of Islands where there were huge protests agains this coward Nasheed and it not only Thulusdhoo.

    But most of those protests are much more civilize than what Nasheed had done during his term agains the opposition parties.

    Nasheed is a man with self integrity and he is a man who is running this peace loving country for his own benefit.

  2. The case of a girl raped coming before the court or held back should not make any difference in giving her justice or being considered an innocent victim. She should get justice and protection from the society whether through the court or outside it. No legal system should be allowed to punish the innocent and reward the perpetrator as was in the case of this girl. Surely, it must be a bad and incompetent system that could not establish right from wrong and judge accordingly.

  3. Mr Nasheed said at his hotel later that evening. "The coup has actually been a blessing in disguise. It exposed the mullahs. When they took jobs in government, it became obvious that they were just using religion for political ends. Hardly anyone is joining their rallies now."

    What is obvious to any student of history has yet to be realised by the Arab-colonized Maldivian brains: that the mullahs use religion only to gain power. Ever since Mullah Maumoon, the bond between religion and politics has been strengthened and Maldivians have come to believe that to love their country they have to be anti-Semitic, Christianity-hating, homophobic, xenophobic, buruga-loving Sunni Muslims of the Wahhabi cult. The sooner the ignorance that is religion is discarded, the sooner Maldivians can make rational decisions without being another copycat state of the Arabs.

  4. The girl need to get full protection and it is no doubt.

    But non of the people seemed to talk about the guy who had raped this girl is in prison and he had been flogged already.

    When Minivan and others who trying to destroy the Maldives, had bothered at least to say that.

    The way media spreads this message is like that the girl is being punished and the man was free and living a normal life among people which is not true at all.

    The guy had put behind the bar and he is serving 25 years jail term in prison.


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