“Anti-semitism, racism, xenophobia and religious intolerance” deeply entrenched in Maldivian political discourse: Dr Shaheed

Anti-semitism, racism, xenophobia and religious intolerance “are deeply entrenched” in political parties currently opposed to the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), former Foreign Minister in both Nasheed and Gayoom’s government, Dr Ahmed Shaheed, has said.

Dr Shaheed’s comments follow reports in local media summarising US Embassy cables first published by Wikileaks in 2009, and discussed during the then-opposition parliament’s efforts to impeach the foreign minister.

In particular, the Maldivian government’s engagement with Israel was the subject of a parliamentary debate November 9, 2009, in which Shaheed narrowly avoided impeachment following a no-confidence motion.

Opposition to the Maldives’ recognition of Israel was seized by then opposition groups in December 2011 as a sign of the Nasheed government’s “anti-Islamic” policies. The previously disparate parties formed the ‘December 23 coalition’, following a large rally in Male’.

Dr Shaheed said “Growing extremism hurts the Maldives rather than anybody else, because whenever a state is unable to deliver what is in the public interest due to intimidation from others, it is the state that suffers.”

“The growth of extremism itself has numerous causes, but none of it is linked to government policy towards Israel or Palestine,” he added.

Many Maldivians firmly believe that policies pursued by Israel affect their solidarity with Arabs and other Muslims, Dr Shaheed explained.

“We care about how Israel treats the Palestinian people, because we care about the safety of the Muslim holy places under Israeli jurisdiction, and because we need to have a dialogue with Israel communicating our interests and concerns on these matters regularly,” he said.

More space for civic reasoning in Maldivian politics is needed for the Maldives to “behave like the rational nation-state, with friendship towards all, that we claim we are,” he said. “Silence may be golden but dialogue is the miracle tool of diplomacy.”

In the original cable referred to by Sun Online, Dr Shaheed told then US Ambassador Robert Blake that he believed “radical clerics ignited a reaction” among the Maldivian population and this was “a lot, but not a genuine undercurrent.”

Dr Shaheed “highlighted that former President Nasheed pledged to “renew ties” with Israel in his September 24 (2009) UN General Assembly speech,” that the Maldives Defense Minister and Minister for Natural Disasters would visit Israel later that year, and both nations “have already signed agreements on health, education, and tourism”.

Speaking to Minivan News, Dr Shaheed said he believed MDP’s rivals considered the cables “the perfect fog-machine to distract any discussion of bread and butter issues in the campaign.”

“Many in the Maldives see the Palestinian-Israeli dispute in religious terms, and religious sensitivities are played up during election time,” he added.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs meanwhile told Minivan News the Maldives is “not against Israel”.

“The Maldives’ government always supports Palestinian citizens to have their freedom and urges this in the United Nations,” said Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Muaz Ali.

“This does not mean Maldives is against Israel,” he said.

“Anti-semitism, racism, xenophobia and religious intolerance”

“Neither former President Maumoon Gayoom nor former President Mohamed Nasheed divided the world into a Dar al- Harb and a Dar al- Islam as in classical Islamic international relations theory, which is what the Salafists in the Maldives want to do,” stated Shaheed.

Shaheed explained that “anti-semitism runs deep in certain sections of Maldivian society”, highlighting as an example an article published in Dhivehi on local news website Dhi-Islam in January 2011, reporting on the agreements made between the Maldivian and Israeli government.

“Under this heinous agreement, these people have thrown the little children and the youth of the Maldives, as well as the country’s education sector and the health sector and many other matters, into the lap of the evil Zionist Israelis, who, as we have been informed through the seven heavens, will never wish anything but evil for Muslims,” the article reads.

“Jews have even historically been an evil people who have been cursed because they had killed prophets and spread corruption on earth, and that they are the biggest enemies of Muslims is proven by the teachings of the Holy Quran and forms of the core beliefs of Muslims. This agreement will impose pressures to prevent the dissemination of these teachings,” it adds.

The report claims that Jews have falsely exaggerated “incidents” of torture and killings during the Holocaust “to inculcate sympathy towards Israel in the minds of Maldivian youths; to convince the Maldivian youths that the jews are the victims of oppression and to make them blind and insensitive to the occupation of Palestine, the seizure of Muslim holy lands, and the endless oppression the jews inflict on the inhabitants of the land.”

“This agreement is high treason or the highest form treachery against the noble Islam and Maldivian identity, upon which this country is founded. It is a matter far more dangerous and grave than can be treated lightly,” said the report.

Historical Maldivian – Israeli relations

There is no document to support the claim that Maldives ever severed diplomatic relations with Israel, in Maldivian or Israeli records, explained Dr Shaheed.

Instead, what appears to have happened is a downgrading of the relationship where no Maldivian president since the early 1970s has been willing to receive an Israeli ambassador formally in his office.

The Maldives voted at the UN to accept the legitimacy of Israel, on December 17, 1991, at the request of then President George Bush, by repealing the 1975 UN resolution equating zionism with racism.

“The Maldives was not alone in changing its policies towards Israel – there were a number of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) states doing the same thing, or had even restored full diplomatic relations,” said Dr Shaheed.

“Under Gayoom, the Maldives categorically accepted the two-state solution. All of these actions were firmly grounded in international law and state practice,” he added.

The Maldivian government discussed the question of restoring ties with Israel following the Oslo Accord agreement in 1993, which established a peace process framework to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Israel agreed to recognize Yasser Arafat as its partner in peace talks and essentially exchanged land for peace. The Palestinians in turn recognized Israel’s right to exist while also renouncing the use of terrorism and its long-held call for Israel’s destruction.

The Gayoom cabinet agreed on a three-stage restoration of ties with Israel, beginning in June 1994. The Maldivian government “agreed to recognize Israeli passports and ended the travel ban” during stage one, explained Shaheed. Shortly thereafter stage two saw trade and commercial relations were fully restored. Restoring political ties occurred during stage three, with regular meetings at senior diplomatic levels, between 1995 to 2008.

“So what President Nasheed said at the UN – and that was my formulation – was that Maldives wanted friendly relations with all states in the General Assembly,” said Dr Shaheed.

“This does not and has not prevented Maldives from criticizing actions of UN member states when they violate peremptory norms of international law, but Nasheed was not going to divide the world into the good the bad and the ugly,” he declared.

In recent years, attitudes toward Israel have greatly fluctuated with collaborative engagement by the Maldivian government being countered by some anti-semitic ‘blowback’ from elements within Maldivian society.

In February 2010, a team of experts from the Israeli Foreign Ministry are training 35 Maldivian officials in emergency preparedness, with a focus on the management of mass casualties.

Later that year, in November, the Islamic Foundation of the Maldives (IFM) called on the government to break off all diplomatic ties with Israel, a day after Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) announced that a team of seven Israeli doctors is due to arrive in the country to treat patients at the government hospital for a week.

The IFM reiterated calls to the Maldives government to “shun all medical aid from the Zionist regime” with a team of seven Israeli eye surgeons due to arrive in December 2012, claiming that Isreali doctors and surgeons “have become notorious for illegally harvesting organs from non-Jews around the world.”

The following month, Founders of the IFM NGO claimed that although they do not believe in “hysterical outbursts” and theories of an imminent “Jewish invasion” in the country, a week of anti-Israel protests and flag burning across Male’ has reflected “strong dissatisfaction with the government’s open attitude” to the Jewish state.

In May 2011, Ahmed Naseem became the first Maldivian Foreign Minister to visit Israel.

However, in September 2011, Deputy Leader of the Adhaalath Party Dr Mauroof Hussein has called for alarm after alleging that a delegation from an Israeli company, Teshuva Agricultural Products, was due to arrive in the Maldives to assess the country’s agricultural potential. The Israeli agricultural delegation that was supposed to arrive on Filadhoo cancelled the visit after the islanders warned that they would not let the delegation go further than the jetty.

In December 2011, Minister of Islamic Affairs Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari requested parliament endorse a resolution forbidding the government to establish ties with Israel.

While in April 2012, MPs passed a resolution preventing Israeli national airline El Al from operating scheduled flights to the Maldives until Majlis’ National Security Committee completes further investigation into the matter. El Al applied to the Ministry of Civil Aviation in May 2011 requesting permission to fly to the Maldives starting in December 2011.

There was no direct flight from Israel to Maldives between 2009-2011, so the Maldives was “not able to maximize the benefits from the growing Israeli market,” Dr Shaheed remarked.

“Maldives could have significantly increased the direct income and benefits from Israeli tourism by accepting direct flights from Israel, resulting in a longer holidays and greater expenditure in Maldives while still making the holiday comparatively cheaper for the visitor,” he added.

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28 thoughts on ““Anti-semitism, racism, xenophobia and religious intolerance” deeply entrenched in Maldivian political discourse: Dr Shaheed”

  1. The difference between zionism and judaism should be noted.
    The only reason for tension against should be for the sake of supporting the plight of our palestinian brothers, who are even by reports by amnesty international and many other peace organizations, facing human rights violations at the hands of the zionists.

    There are anti zionist jews as well, such as the infamous rabbi wiess. Opposing the actions of israel as a state is by no means anti semetic. Its like condemning the perpetrators of rwandan massacre being called racist.

    We are all humans regardless of flesh and blood, and anti semetism or racism towards asians, africans, arabs or whoever is disgusting. And the fact that adhaalath and the psychos are being extremely anti jewish shows that they know so little about islam themselves, as muslims 1350 years ago welcomed jewish communities within the arabian peninsula, which is why there are jewish communities to this day in, morocco, iran, egypt etc. And a former colleague of mine's grand parents were Iraqi jews, And they were much respected as fellow human beings by the surrounding muslims as their family lived there in peace for hundreds of years until the formation of israel.

    The real problem is Salafism, and not islam.

    And the actions of radical right wing zionists who are blockading, murdering,colonizing and oppressing our palestinian brothers and sisters do not represent all of israel or all jews.

    Human beings should be taken for who they are, and speaking as a muslim we should not judge other people, as we are told even the people who we criticize the most may actually be better than us

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  2. Maldivians will foam at their mouths like rabid dogs whenever "Israel" or "Jew" is mentioned and will string up a host of conspiracy theories whenever international law or politics surfaces in the conversation. This is what they have been taught by the likes of mullah Maumoon and his madrassa educated brigade - to walk, talk, eat, defecate and vote like Arabs. As long as Maldivians are brainwashed by their Arab colonists and Maldivian politicians are afraid of mullahs, this trend will continue.

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  3. I think the secular minded Maldivian are more racist. Calling Bangaldeshis as Bangahaleys for example. I love Islam and I also have a beard (which is portrayed as extremists as in this photo). I know in Islam there is no room for racism. I have travelled extensively and I have treated people with respect. What is the motive of Dr. Shaheed?

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  4. What did Shaheed's supporting party MDP do to protect the dignity of those many foreign labourers in the Maldives. I ask the readers not believe things said by people you cannot trust. Some people have a habit of criticising their own country men, only to gain popularity by gaining an image of the better people.

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  5. The Maldivian term for Jew (Yahoodhee) has very demeaning connotations. It is associated with liars, deceivers and cheaters and is almost as bad as "kaafir" or "Christian missionary." The irony is that most Maldivians who love Palestine so much, don't even realise that there are Israeli Arabs and Israeli Muslims (who outnumber the Maldivian population) and are treated much better than minorities in Arab countries. The majority of Maldivians would even mistake the Dome of the Rock for Masjid al-Aqsa. LOL.

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  6. Anti-semitism, racism, xenophobia and religious intolerance in muslim countries.....especially 100% muslim countries like Maldives.....will only stop when your mad mullahs stop preaching hatred towards other faiths and minority groups and stop brainwashing young muslims minds into believing that islam is the only true religion in the world, that plurality is wrong in the eyes of allah, that muslims.....especially sunni muslims.....are God's Chosen People and the epicentre of the whole goddam universe.
    Add to your hate list Americans, Jews, Hindus, Christians, homosexuals, prostitutes, crossdressers, rentboys, masseurs and people practising sorcery and black magic!! You have no tolerance for other muslims either.....shias, ahmadiyyas, sufis.....all are kaffirs and must be flogged and beheaded at once!! With these dumb and pathetic religious beliefs is it any wonder that you are an unstable country with an uncertain future?
    Every day I thank Krishna I was born an infidel. We Indians have so much to teach you primitive islanders about freedom, tolerance, equality and secularism.
    LOOK AND LEARN

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  7. The only point i can agree with Shaheed is on the anti-semitism point,which is a terribly huge concern which should have been addresed decades ago.Sadly,Maumoon used this as a campaign tool for ages cox he had nothing much else to speak about as everything against him was silenced.
    Muslims need to know that what is happening in middle east is an ideological conflict which will be solved without bloodshed.If atall the rich arabs should help the poor palestine refugees to establish their life.I bet a handful oil sheikhs can do that.However politics is politics and arms trade has to go on to finance it all.
    Musims do not know that the jews are the people of israel or the sons of jocob.Yahoodi is used as an insult but the literal meaning of the word is "PEOPLE OF GOD" and they have been the true guardian of MONOTHEISm for ages.They are the nation of Moses and his books.If muslims want to prove thier point that Mohamed was the awaited Messenger they should and must use logic and reasoning rather than opting for bloodshed and killing the souls of Allah just because we lack sufficient knwoledge to reason logically.Just think what the prophet would have done!He begged for mercy even for even his worst eneemies by saying that "forgive them for their only fault is that they don't understand".

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  8. Those who served with Foreign Ministry can give full evidence of Shaheed discriminated people based on their background. Look at the his record and see how he has given top jobs to people from Male elite families, who by the way are related to him.

    His talk of xenophobia and racism is just a cover while being the worst of bigots Maldives has ever seen.

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  9. The blog post from this Maldivian blogger gives a much better and honest assessment on this issue.

    http://endhimariyambu.com/2012/04/20/love-palestine-hate-racism/

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  10. Dr Shaheed is quite right about this. This is a result of hundreds of years of brain washing by those who do not understand the difference between Zionism and Judaism (amongst many other things they do not understand).

    Planet earth is about 4 billion years old and complex life forms appeared just about a billion years ago. If you project that billion years onto a 12 hour clock, you will find that humans have been here for less than 8 seconds of that projection!

    Think about that. Some Muslims think they are the most important "creation" in the whole universe and some Jews, Christians, Buddhists etc think likewise. By putting the universe in context, one will realise that we are less than microns in the gigantic universe.

    If all humans realised the total insignificance of their lot, they might even stop bickering about non-sense like religious intolerance!

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  11. @Mohamed on Wed, 10th Apr 2013 8:36 PM

    "I love Islam and I also have a beard (which is portrayed as extremists as in this photo)."

    Good for you that you love Islam. Who cares about your beard? Seriously, no one does. You can grown your beard until it sweeps the floor you walk on, but that won't make you a good Muslim or a good human being.

    It's all about your deeds and actions; and not about how you look.

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  12. The only hatred i see is from the kuffar to those of us who are muslims. We are the 99% of this country. But its very apparent that we have a dedicated hatred filled bunch of kaafir thugs spewing their hatred against us 24/7 in blogs and internet forums.

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  13. Dear Dr. Ahmed "Janaza" Shaheed,

    Who said on BBC that Gayoom is the father of democracy?

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  14. The simpleton's brain will only see black and white - in this case kuffar and non-kuffar. Non-kuffar like Human Being will claim to be the 99 percent majority and they will impose their religion on everyone, kill apostates, vandalise museums, burn flags, bomb tourists and spew hatred, misogyny, homophobia and anti-Semitism from their pulpits. But the minute the one percent of us kuffar say something against it in self defense, their simple brains will see it as an attack. These double standards are not surprising, after all the mullahs believe that the world is theirs to take and the rest of should just convert to their religion or pay them the jizyah. (Some mullahs actually think that kaafir foreign aid is jizyah. Perhaps this is how Maldivian mullahs justify the haraam tourism dollars.)

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  15. Shaheed himself is a traitor. This guy is now obsessed with the money and mower and he is being planted in europe to spared Nasheed's propaganda.

    Yesterday Wikileak reports had show what Shaeed and Nasheed was after.

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  16. Kuribee, Ratz & Humanbeing...

    I'm not a huge fan of homosexuals in general but rather like your right to choose your religion and way of life, he has the right to chose his.

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  17. @yo.
    so you don't have a sense of right and wrong? Would you also approve of the right of thief to steal? as long as he steals from someone else?

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  18. @human being on Thu, 11th Apr 2013 6:41 AM

    "The only hatred i see is from the kuffar to those of us who are muslims."

    Total and utter nonsense. "Kuffar" was invented to make Muslims feel good about themselves. This is nothing but tribalism at best. Humans love tribalism, since that's how we've always been for the 200,000 years of our existence on this planet.

    Muslims (like all other tribes on earth) distinguish themselves in various ways. Long beards and short trousers for men, veils for women are just symbols to identify with each other. No one hates you for what you wear or how you look.

    If you don't threaten another human being, he or she will never have any reason to hate you. These are basic animal instincts. Look at the reasons why Muslims/Jews/Christians/Buddhists are at each other's throats. It all boils down to grabbing a bigger slice of Planet Earth, while it lasts. That's all!

    Find a quite place (just like Prophet Mohammed did) and reflect upon the greater universe and your own insignificance. Hopefully, you may learn something about yourself and learn to respect other human beings!

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  19. Everyone has a right to chose their way of life, as long as it causes no harm to others. That's my view.

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  20. Kuffar, infidel, non believer, kaffir.....you dumb people seems to have so many derogatory and insulting words to describe non muslims.....words that are repeated everyday in your places of worship.
    Not surprising then that muslims are the most hated minority on the planet today.
    Think about it.....if you are still capable of rational thought.

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  21. 1. There is not one single Muslim country or Islam state with - equal - human rights, with peace and development, with democacy.
    2. Most of these countries are ruled by dictators / regimes / kings ! ...
    3. Every single day you can read about Muslims killing each other, in non-terorists attacks of course ... Or where regime is persecuting and chasing ...
    4. Muslims kill more Muslims in one month than Israel in two years.

    And all of that because of religion .... used by he powerful to keep the ordinary people down. To live in wealth themselves, while the islands havoe not even drinking water, they bath in mineral water.

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  22. How many holy lands do Muslims have? I think Vatican is also a part of Muslims holy land. Why do Muslims face Mecca when they pray because they worship a four wall square box and they don't face Al-Aqsa when they pray. All Muslims believe that Allah exist in Mecca and this is the reason why Muslims face Mecca to pray.

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  23. Maldivian live in oblivion with fantasies created by religion to sooth the poor, ignorant, depressed people to give them hope to live in their miserable condition and hope for batter life after the death that offers rivers, garden, wines, beautiful women and all luxury they cannot have in real life. You can’t bring Maldivian in the realm of reality because Maldives cannot offer any worldly comfort to its people. You cannot torture Maldivian any more psychologically by confusing that you have one life to live because this makes them more depressed and it will create more psychopaths, suicidal maniacs. Maldives is better with a religion like Islam and no one should meddle with such sensitive issue that can destroy some naïve innocent people.

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  24. I am aware that many people question Dr. Shaheed's integrity due to some supposedly less than perfect political history. As I do not know the Dr. personally, I am in no position to comment regarding the person of Dr. Shaheed. Motives are ultimately only known by God alone. Many of these duels over integrity seem routed in politics rather than in reality. The motives of the benevolent actions of even the most well intentioned person will allways be challenged by other people.

    However, I must say that the importance of Dr. Shaheed's insights regarding Shariah Law and the issue of flogging could not be possibly be overstated. No matter who he is (I am not a Maldivian voter anyway) I am deeply greatful for Dr. Shaheed's immensely liberating and enlightening views.

    Thankyou Dr. Shaheed.

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