A group of people led by ‘National Movement’ – comprising of several NGOs and the Adhalaath Party – protested on the streets of Male’ yesterday against remarks made by former President Mohamed Nasheed to a university in Denmark.
Several hundred protesters marched around Male’ last night, starting and finishing at the Artificial Beach, calling for the authorities to penalise Nasheed.
Speaking at Copenhagen University about Islamic radicalism in the Maldives, Nasheed stated the Maldivian population had largely rejected Islamic extremism, and, in a veiled reference to the Adhaalath Party, noted that “the Islamists were never a credible electoral threat.”
“ The Islamic extremists also didn’t like the Maldives’ new democracy because they were unpopular. They failed to win the Presidential elections in 2008, they failed to win local government elections – in 2011 they won less that four percent of the vote. But now, after the coup, extremists have been rewarded with three cabinet positions in government, and in many ways set the tone of government communications. They are busy trying to indoctrinate people with a misguided version of Islam,” Nasheed said.
Nasheed acknowledged that there was “a lot of xenophobia, Islamic rhetoric and intolerance going on in the Maldives”, and noted the destruction of 12-century Buddhist statues, manuscripts, and other evidence of the Maldives’ pre-Islamic history.
“There is idea of wanting to return to Hejaz at it was in the 7th century. This is Wahabism in principle. And it is difficult and worrying,” Nasheed said.
“The vast majority of our society are very tolerant people. If all this Islamist rhetoric is removed from official discourse, there will be a much more liberal society. I assure you the rhetoric will be removed from official discourse,” he said.
President of the Adhaalath Party Sheikh Imran Abdulla, who was abroad, addressed the protesters via mobile phone, accusing Nasheed of destroying the reputation of the Maldives.
Imran claimed Nasheed had “now confessed” to what the Adhaalath Party had previously accused him.
He also said that the national movement should include this issue in its protest planned for next month, for the rights of murder victims.
Spokesperson of theNational Movement Sobah Rasheed told newspaper Haveeru that the group would protest against Nasheed “every night”.
He alleged Nasheed had mocked the religion of Islam, the Sunnah of Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) and verses of the Holy Quran.
Meanwhile, speaking to a rally on Bilehdhoo in Faafu Atoll on Sunday night, Nasheed accused “politicians posing as religious scholars” on bringing about February 7 2013’s controversial transfer of power, “selling out the religion of Islam.”
“By donning the caps of religious scholars and deceiving citizens in the name of religion, they gained power in a government and are now in the midst of the biggest worldly sin,” Nasheed alleged.
“The religion of Islam is a religion which has been given respect and honour in our hearts. They can always play with our hearts when they speak in the name of religion, especially when they do so in the guise of being Islamic scholars,” he said.
“We Maldivians are waking up to this now. We can no longer believe the things they say in the name of being religious scholars.”
Nasheed’s address in Copenhagen: