Blogger detained another 15 days as Bari requests proper punishment

The detention of controversial blogger Ismail ‘Khilath’ Rasheed has been extended by another 15 days, following Sunday’s Criminal Court hearing.

Meanwhile, Islamic Minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari has requested that appropriate punishments for those who call for religious freedom be added to the nation’s penal code.

Rasheed, a self-declared Sufi Muslim, was arrested on December 14 by a Court Order for his involvement in a silent peaceful protest calling for religious tolerance in honor of International Human Rights Day. The protest ended violently when a group attacked the approximately 30 protestors with stones, sending Rasheed to the hospital with head injuries.

His detention was extended by 10 days on December 17. He has been held without charges.

The Criminal Court has cited Rasheed’s blog, which was shut down on the Islamic Ministry’s order in November for its alleged anti-Islamic content, as grounds for his extended detention, Haveeru reports.

Ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik called for an investigation into the gathering, along with religious conservative Adhaalath Party and NGO Jamiyyathu Salaf.

The parliament’s National Security Committee (NSC) currently reviewing the silent protest had summoned Rasheed for questioning today, however it was cancelled when officials decided “not to proceed with the hearing at this time,” said an NSC official.

The parliamentary committee did hear Islamic Minister Dr Bari, who observed that the law lacks any clear punishment for individuals promoting religious freedom.

“The protestors did not announce that they had abandoned their religion but they called for religious freedom. The law has no defined punishment. They are just defying the religious unanimity of the country. I don’t believe there is any legal action against the call as no legal action can be taken until one publicly declares apostasy,” he said.

Dr. Bari requested parliament to pass these “much-needed legislations”, and advised that the punishments be added to the Penal Code currently under review.

Guraidhoo MP Ibrahim Riza pointed out that in cases where no clear penalty is stated, punishments can be given under Penal Code Article 88(a), (b) and (c), reports Haveeru.

Dr Bari countered that the code only provides soft punishments.

In a statement protesting Rasheed’s detention, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) challenged the claim that the December 10 gathering violated the Maldives’ national religion.

“The Maldivian constitution bans the promotion of any religion other than Islam but guarantees freedom of assembly and expression as long as it does not contravene Islam. Rasheed professes to be an adherent of Sufism, which emphasises the inner, spiritual dimension of Islam,” reads the statement.

The Maldivian laws state that those seeking elected political office must be Sunni Muslims.

Police commissioner Ahmed Faseeh responded to Bari’s concerns at the NSC meeting by assuring a thorough investigation would be completed within 15 days. He called the case a serious matter.

“I will give the details [later] and I will point out everything even if it includes negligence on our side,” he said.

“We have done a lot and several have been summoned. We are determining the identity of those believed to have participated in the gathering via CCTV footage and video clips received from the public and we are summoning them,” he is quoted as saying in Haveeru.

Meanwhile, Rasheed’s detention has also attracted concern from Amnesty International.

Following RSF’s statement, Amnesty International declared Rasheed a prisoner of conscience and called for his “immediate and unconditional” release.

Calling the attack on Rasheed and his subsequent detention a “clear example of the erosion of freedom of expression in the Maldives,” Amnesty stated that,

“The continued detention of Ismail ‘Khilath’ Rasheed is in breach of international treaties on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the Maldives is a state party.

“Amnesty International is dismayed that instead of defending Ismail ‘Khilath’ Rasheed, who has peacefully exercised his right to freedom of the expression, the government of Maldives has detained him. Moreover, the government has taken no action to bring to justice those who attacked the ‘silent’ demonstrators, even though there is credible photographic evidence of the attack.”

The debate over religious tolerance has been gathering steam for several months.

Under new regulations published by the government in September, interpreting the 1995 Religious Unity Act passed by parliament, media is “banned from producing or publicising programs, talking about or disseminating audio that humiliates Allah or his prophets or the holy Quran or the Sunnah of the Prophet (Mohamed) or the Islamic faith.”

Violation of the Act carries a prison sentence of between 2-5 years.

United Nation’s Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay spoke against flogging as a punishment for extra-marital sex in November, prompting protests and demands that she be “flayed”.

On December 23, the protests to defend Islam had members of various opposition parties and religious NGOs calling for full Shari’ah, while the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) stood for the national tradition of moderate Islam. The protests were executed peacefully, however the tense build-up prompted the United Kingdom to issue a travel advisory for the Maldives.

The Islamic Ministry today announced that it will hold a conference this Saturday and Sunday to discuss the religious controversies currently afoot in the Maldives. The ministry’s Assistant Director Admedullah Jameel has told Haveeru that 64 scholars will be in attendance.


23 thoughts on “Blogger detained another 15 days as Bari requests proper punishment”

  1. Khillath is anything but a peaceful protestor.

    Intentionally creating havoc while knowing its consequences is not a sign of peace.

    I condemn Amnesty International for its discriminatory attitude towards advocating the rights of individuals. Several persons who have stood for certain ideals have been persecuted in this country. However it is only when Amnesty receives reports of a upper middle-class rich kid running around creating protests which the snotty little b%&^% knew would have no chance of success does the grand old Amnesty provide its protection.

    As an institution, I call upon Amnesty to strengthen its monitoring of situations on the ground to provide more effective momentum for rights-based advocacy in developing nations.

  2. Stay strong, Hilath. You did nothing wrong. Even the islamic minister has had to admit nobody at the silent protest did anything illegal.

    HRCM are curiously silent on this issue. Did Minivan approach them for a comment?

  3. Hilath should be released unconditionally. He is a prisoner of conscious.
    Islam parades around as religion of peace but given the authority it is just as totalitarian as it's Semitic siblings.

  4. This is not what Bari said. This is a total misinterpretation. It would really help if the journalists of minivan do proper translations of Dhivehi statements.

    Bari said there's no mechanism to punish 'people who call for freedom of religion' in the penal code, and there's no punishment for that in Islamic law as well. I don't understand why Minivan wants to assume that everything Bari says should be an 'extremist' view. These kind of reporting only spreads hate, which is not needed now.

    One more thing, is it 'minivan' as in Dhivehi for independent/freedom, or mini-van? I've heard some of your reporters say mini-van a lot, is that a sarcastic way to patronize Maldivians?

    - Please don't censor this comment, edit it if you wish. I mean no harm 🙂

  5. tsk tsk,

    While pretty much most of your comments are obnoxious and needlessly personal, in this case, it is just nauseating.

    Hilath or the rest didn't contravene any known tenet of Islam, or the constitution - and is detained without any charges or justification.

    He is a prisoner of conscience, and must be released immediately.

  6. Hilath is a guest in My House`

    You see Sufism is a beautiful 'thing'. Yet in times of war (and we see all snakes seeking to thrive in our lands) we must exact 'Marshal Law(s)', and thus enact such 'bans' (when Not at war, we are tolerant & peaceful- you see we know when we are being invaded- invasions of the Mind)).
    Think of it as tighter border controls because "Kristian armies" and "America" comes not in the dead of the night with arms & bullets- it comes in Capri` pants and as 'political correctness', vista pseudo-visions, in celluloid and fitna-talkies.

    Fasada`intransigence get it.

    As the cannibal often says- 'Wal'hamdh'lillah .'

  7. so he is being held until the law can be amended to charge him for something? classy!


  9. Hilath is a prisoner of conscience.

    However, it is quite clear that his writings are religiously provocative (or purportedly). We know the kind of mindsets the 'pro-religious' (or rather anti-religious, in my perspective) leaders of this country has. We saw quite clearly on 23rd what these Mullahs are capable of. They who 'vakaalaath' for banning liquor and spas in the country put forward the liquor & spas tycoon a.k.a. 'buruma' and along with him Mr. 'Gunda' Yameen Gayyoom on the front row of their protest, to help with their so-called 'religious' cause.

    When so and so is so, it is risky to let Hilath roam on the streets in the Maldives, given the physical attack from which he nearly survived at the incident.

    Amnesty is correct. RSF is correct. Government is also correct. Hilath being kept away from open public is the only way his life would not be at jeapordy, given that he has been thrown out by his parents and his daily bread and accommodation is highly limited due to unavailability of work to such a person, in this country.

    One could say that he should be freed and provided a personal body guard. But, that would provide a window for these Mullahs to start barking again and lure the innocent public who takes religious statements from these Mullahs for granted - meaning chaos again... unless and until the government can promote the 'moderate' version strong enough. Unfortunately, (or Not to use religion as a political tool and to be rightful to the public) current government has openly accepted that they are not well-versed enough to talk about religion when they rolled in, in 2008.

    Innocent public abused!

  10. The ones with the biggest stick makes the rules. Islam is being used as a stick by the extremists.

    My advice? Get a bigger stick.

  11. There is no difference with Bari and Hillath, both are abnormal as far as their psychology is concerned. Bari is fanatic in Islam who will go extra mile to punish anyone who criticizes his beloved religion for that he has spent whole life. If there is no Islam, Bari is a monkey in a society where Islam has no upper hand.
    Hillath is fanatic in humanist cause, who is blind on ground reality of the psyches of undeveloped third world country gullible mass, who has nothing except the golden faith of Islam. Bari will triumph, because his madness has fuel to drive, “the people of this banana republic”.

  12. Although Hillath is a close friend of mine, I cannot say he has either conscience or worked for peace these last few years. I know a lot about Hillath but I am prepared to say this much. Hillath is getting serious money from international donors such as the powerful LGBT lobby where he represents Maldives. The grand idea is of course religious pluralism and he has backing of most of the elites of the country.

  13. bull$h1t!!
    what kind of muslim is this freakin bari

    talk about how peaceful n tolerance muslims r
    & punish anyone who actually wants peace n tolerance

  14. My opinion is we should divide this country to bits and peaces.

    Divide it among Sunnis, Sufis, Gays prostitutes, drug lords and abusers, killers, the fundamentalists and what-ever-crap-&-scum the population of this country is made up of.

    Seriously, this country is worse than hell itself. I wonder if the devil himself would want to set foot in this god-forsaken land.

    I got nothing against the sorts. But, others wanna live here too. It not just the sufis and fundamentalists and politicians and businessmen.

    Do we need a tsunami-like-disaster to be ONE again? Damn. May god have mercy on the poor souls...

  15. Why are we Maldivians so insistent on taking Mr. Hillath to "Suvaruge" against his own will.

  16. @ rambe on Wed: I salute you with all my heart, you understood the situation well.

  17. lets get that bastard. if he can break some one's head why can't we break his head!!!!

  18. @moyameehaa

    Its very sad, you imitate someone else's identity to defame someone else you know only a little about.

  19. it was guns that made all men equal!!
    i say an eye for an eye!!
    be at peace hilath, men of thought made guns, not men of scripture....

  20. Please dont try to attack Islam to protact a gay guy Hillath.
    this cant be acceptable to Islam. He can go to America or some country allow gaysm and do how much he want. also he can get partners there easily. So, I dont thing we have make a big issue out of this man. Just let Islamic law apply in Maldives to the Gay rights.


Comments are closed.