Comment: The heady brew of religious extremism, democracy and public opinion

This government is legless, three sheets to the wind, incapable of walking a straight line, has blurred vision and cannot remember from one second to the next what decision it made yesterday, never mind last month. If only this was heaven, the real mother of a hangover that is sure to come could have been avoided.

But alas, this is real life, and it is time this government stopped being intoxicated by the sense of achievement that has come with having given the Maldives deliverance from an autocracy. Wake up, and smell the theocracy that is in the air. Is it not sobering enough?

Wahhabism is in the Maldives to stay. Osama bin Laden made it clear that his ultimate aim is to establish an Islamic Caliphate across the globe. There are many who are willing to die for the cause, and many of them are now in the Maldives.

If the government continues to oscillate, gutless and indecisive, in the current manner, the Maldives could easily become the first member of this envisioned Caliphate. Twice now the government has changed its mind about bringing in new legislation regarding the sale of alcohol. Twice now it has back-tracked, citing ‘public opinion’. What is at stake here is not the availability or lack thereof of alcoholic beverages, but the ability of the current government to be a strong and capable leader of the nation.

Who is the ‘public’ that the government cited? The Wahhabi clerics? Has it come to the stage now where a Maldivian man is only a Maldivian man if he wears a bushy beard that covers his face?

Is a Maldivian woman only a Maldivian woman if she has covered herself from head to toe, or at least covered her hair with a Buruqa that complements the figure hugging PVC cat-suit she has on?

Is a Maldivian only a Maldivian if s/he is happy to listen to the Qur’an or some Dharus or another all day, every day?

Is a Maldivian only a Maldivian if s/he believes that women are inferior to men?

Is that the ‘public’? And what is ‘opinion’? Even if one does not buy into the elitist position that public opinion can never be informed enough for it to ensure that all democratic decisions are informed decisions, it is a valid question to ask of this government: what has informed this ‘opinion’ to which you have once again bowed? How has this ‘public’ arrived at this ‘opinion’ that has you so cowed?

Opinion, by definition, is a judgement or view based neither on fact nor knowledge. When the lack of knowledge is used by a particular group of people to ensure – through religious propaganda – that everyone holds the same view, what is expressed is not an opinion but dogma. Religious dogma.

The majority of Maldivian people are not free to think for themselves any more. After thirty years of being told what to do – from good table manners to good praying etiquette spelled out by the Great Leader – and being denied the opportunity to develop intellectually as free thinking people; the void where knowledge should have been is now being filled with unrelenting religious propaganda that saturates the Maldivian airwaves.

Every single medium of the various types available in the twenty first century is being utilised by these well-organised and well-funded Wahhabbis. They have numerous websites (;;; Islam to name but a few) and a strong presence on social networking sites and YouTube. They organise public sermons and lectures covering everything from Valentine’s Day to good husbandry and housekeeping. They fly in international scholars to preach their message and convince the youth that life is better lived after death.

To respond to this well-organised, well-oiled invasion of our country, this brutal rape of our identity in broad daylight, this daily negation of our rights under the name of Islam by suggesting that all ‘beloved citizens who might harbour what might be considered extremist ideas and opinions’ should perhaps ‘moderate and soften their ways of thinking’ makes President Nasheed look as effective a political leader as a newly crowned Miss World breathlessly avowing her goal to attain world peace.

‘Might’ harbour what ‘might’ be considered extremist ideas and opinions? Where is the doubt coming from about the extremism of their ideas? They are openly and clearly saying that women are inferior to men. They are indoctrinating Maldivians to believe that Wahhabbism is the only form of Islam that Allah recognises. Might be considered extremist?

Yes, public opinion is vital to democracy. There is, however, no system in place to effectively measure public opinion in the Maldives. There are no regular polls, no surveys, no studies to gauge what the public’s view of anything is. Nobody has their finger on the public pulse, just a hand around its throat.

Hiding behind the buzz words of democracy is not going to deliver Maldivians democracy – it may be rule by the people for the people, but it might well be worth remembering that people at religious boot camp with Wahhabbis may not have had the freedom to arrive at a considered opinion about anything of their own free will. ‘Freedom of opinion’ as a democratic right extends not just to freely expressing an opinion but to freely forming it as well.

Staggering from one side to the other (a foreign policy that finds allies in counter-terrorism; a domestic policy that is victim to an extremist Islamic sect) and bending over backwards to appease both sides while trying to stand upright; that kind of behaviour is far better suited to a public house than to the house that runs the public, would you not agree?

Munirah Moosa is a journalism and international relations graduate. She is currently engaged in research into the ‘radicalisation’ of Muslim communities and its impact on international security.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


36 thoughts on “Comment: The heady brew of religious extremism, democracy and public opinion”

  1. Minivan news is obviously an anti islamic are always thirsty for any issue against islam so you can take it up to spread hatred and propaganda.. shame on you people.. what you have to keep in mind is maldives is an islamic country where the majority of people are practicing muslims. ofcours we do respect your freedom of speech, but as per the constitution of maldives that freedom is withing the framework of islam. and if you continue this evil work of insulting islam and muslims we will take action against it. and for the record we will not shy away from going to the courts to protect our faith.

  2. A very well written article. It is a shame that our hard fought battle to bring democracy to Maldives is been raped by these religious fanatics, it is as if true democracy can only be enjoyed by these Mullas.If things go in the direction is it steering right now,the naive majority of the people will be brainwashed and victimized by fear, squeezing away every desire to live(or let live).A lot is going backwards now,I hope the politicians and the leaders seriously think and collectively do something to tackle this problem. This is not some issue to play around or abuse to score political points. In th end it is everybody who's going to be face the horror from the menace. Your businesses and livelihood cannot be sustained or developed, we'll only be heading to living in caves. I hope Mr.President reads the article,deliberate and reflect on it thoroughly.

  3. I cringe every time an MP or a leader talks about taking a bill to his 'constituency' to gauge their opinion.

    Because the constituents often know precious little when it comes to what's good for them.

    It's a tragedy of democracy that colossal ignorance often passes for an opinion.

  4. Until the last breadth, the slaves are FREE to express their thoughts in what ever form, extent, media, language and on which ever topic they feel appropriate topping up with the all the sarcasm that one can think of to effectively make an article seem intelligent. But after that they are presented to reason each and every second how they spent their time in this world. At least i fear and believe this. Call me stupid, Wahabist or what ever you want.

  5. A well written piece but ultimately misinformed. Let me expand.

    "Rape of our identity is broad daylight", is an interesting idea that you bring up. What you seem to suggest is that somehow being a practicing Muslim or adhering to a stricter form of religion is a loss to our identity as a nation and a people. By the same token surely you have to accept that the constant barrage of a so called 'better, more advance civilization' that the MTV culture brought to our shores was also an erosion to our identity. The fact that every since person in the Maldives is watching Hindhi tele-serials and is more in tune with how you pray at a temple than a mosque can also be seen as an erosion of our identity. Just maybe?

    The fact of the matter is the the new worlds wars are not being fought for commodities as many people seem to think, it is being fought for our minds! If you are willing to accept that it is part of our society that we live in with boyfriends or girlfriends before marriage, are comfortable wearing almost next to no clothes and no longer have any social responsibilities to our parents and assume that the state will sort it out, then I am sorry but you have to accept that keeping a beard, praying 5 times a day and choosing to marry 4 women if they accept is undenaibly part our culture too. Whether you like it or not, none of these things were not with us 30, 40 years ago, but are practiced by a increasingly bi-polar, but growing part of our society.

    No I do not fit into either of these categories (I'm not cool enough to be boozing around, neither am I in touch with my religious side to be praying 5 times a day and look away when I see hot girls on my saikal buru), but the sad truth of reality is that a 300,000 weak group of people have no hope in hell of being in an isolated cocoon living our life within our unique identity. We have to accept that our identity is being shaped and moulded everyday through our interaction with the wider world. And in my opinion for the better.

    Now why there is such strong emotion to people practicing a stricter form of Islam vs. people practicing a stricter version of the MTV civilization is curious, but I believe ultimately very simple. As one of the more candid patrons of the west , George Dubya Bush put it: "Its a clash of civilizations". Brutally simple as that. What the west wants to propagate, Islam counteracts. This is nothing uniquely Maldivian, so save your bullets. Shooting Anni down for bowing to public pressure, albeit twice, is simply a victory of realism over the current situation. It is probably good politics (not a politicaian - thank god!), probably a bit of the old wobbly knees, and prob a bit of the 'I dunno what going on here' syndrome.

    As for your roll cast of websites that propagate Islam, there are a million websites that propagate western civilization. Now I happen to think there is nothing wrong in either of these opposing ideas, as long as we can strike a balance in our society. To accept that we need to learn to live with each other is the key. You are gonna have death metal junkies, you are gonna have the closet puffs, you are gonna have the material princesses and so you are gonna have the wahhabis. Simply learn to live each other is what I say!

  6. Every second we spend on this world is valuable. I do not think those who are conservative are stupid or unintelligent. I believe that they believe conservative Islam is what is best for the Maldivian People.

    But we have to be more tolerant of each other as Maldivians. We should not forget our cultural heritage. We cannot create a community in which our grandparents would have been appalled to live.

    I'm not saying that we should have a liberal Islamic doctrine. I am not saying we should have a conservative doctrine. I am saying that we should be open to all forms of Islam. Saudi based Islam is a new thing for the world. Less than 10% of the world's Muslims follow conservative or Salafi based beliefs. The reason why it is so prevalent in Maldives is because of Saudi money, scholarships and influence. Are all Shi'as heretics? Are those who follow other schools of Sunni Islam heretics as well?

    Al-Azhar is the world's second oldest institution and the most prominent Muslim University in the world. They're overarching policy has been one of inclusion for all Muslims. They promote moderate understandings. An yet, their views are not really reflected in our homes.

    Tolerance is necessary for democracy. Is tolerance such a bad thing?

  7. Hi Mr Bar,
    We have voted for a democracy that is fitted to a muslim community. Not like in western communities where religious freedom is given. Remember, majority of this citizens support muslim & islam. No rule or regulation agins islamic laws could be impose for us. Never and ever. Dear Leaders, remember about the majority of Maldivians. Think about the next election. A very high possiblity to be win, but only if acted wisely. Popularity of Maumoon do loss due to his ignorance,his actions against muslim scholars etc.

  8. A very interesting read, and true too. The 'mulla falhi' at henveiru park is so annoying but slowly it seems that more people are gathering there every night. Scary.

  9. i don t what wrong with jihadists...everything of different opinion become anti islam...i guess the time of whaabis is over specially after maumoon won the recent award his credibility is up on Islamic knowledge and convincing public on moderate Islam has a chance as his followers are still more and we have hope as have said his political ambition is over and he will work on social issues.

  10. Ranting and raving about how extremism is spreading in the country is not going to help anyone. The government and party that toppled a 30 year dictator is not so stupid that they do not see the problems. Could it be that what you are seeing from the government is the tolerance that many are asking for? Maumoon imprisoned the religious extremists and stopped them from speaking in public. Did that help or hurt spread of extremism? Less ranting but more constructive suggestions on how to deal with religious intolerance would be better.

  11. Some great thoughts by Ali at Lexington.
    Totally agree.

    Why do I feel that the real issue with people who call the government a 'chicken' after recently withdrawing the liquor license is Islam itself? Not even fundamentalism, but Islam in general. And this is because we are Muslims. If we had more than one religion, it will be belief in God, not just Islam that these people will have an issue with.

    If someone thinks they are happier by wearing a 'buruga' and by praying five times a day why should it be a problem to someone else?

    Why would someone spend time to denigrate what the majority of Maldivians decided?

    It is not religious dogma that moved the Maldivians. How more misinformed can Ms Muneera Moosa be?

    It is our culture, our values and the way we have lived for all our history that made Maldivians come out in thousands to protest against selling alcohol. If someone cannot understand why the Maldivians value and respect all these then it is his or her problem.

    We are Maldivians and we live a certain way. When people try to impose the western culture on us, we do not need religious dogma to cling on to, to prevent it from happening. We need to remind them that we are Maldivians and this is exactly what happened.

  12. Good article, Munirah Moosa, well said. It is sad to observe how our heritage, our true Maldivian culture is slowly going to fade away and is being replaced by Saudi based Islam. Many Maldivians are bearing hatred in their hearts against "western culture", "christianity" and "secularists" like never before. Maldives has been a moderate Islamic country so far, tolerating other cultures, but times have changed due to the FEAR that these Wahabis or Mullahs or whoever spread in the country.

  13. Wahabism is not a new phenomenon prevalent only in Maldives. It has global dimensions to it. IN fact many countries are struggling to cope with the rising radicalization of their communities. There is nothing wrong for a woman to be wrapped with black cloth if she so wishes. In the same way those who choose to wear normal dresses, even without buruga should be left alone. The problem here is the growing intolerance. The path of intolerance will only lead us to cracks in our social fabric and it will take us to isolation from the rest of the world even the if the world community is getting more and more connected and intertwined.

    I applaud Anni's decision to retreat from new alcohol regulation. Some people might think the decision reflects his weakness. But I see it as a strategic move made in the best interest of the country. As a supporter of secular views, I believe we all have to live our lives in harmony regardless of our own personal beliefs. A co-existence that welcomes global trends is what we need since we are all global citizens.

  14. Thank you for this article, and great points in the comments as well. The question remains, is it wise to be tolerant towards the intolerant. traditionally the maldivians have not been following a very strict strain of islam. Only 40 years back, many women in the island did not cover themselves at all. Ibn Battuta was already unhappy about this. Now, the problem is that most of the sermons are very shallow, I would say just as shallow as the Hindhi movies that people seem to appreciate so much. They really focus on the external signs of being a muslim without providing any actual spiritual guidance. Finally, when shown any type of contradictions in their thinking, those speaking in the name of islam brandish the threat of hell to scare people into their way of "thinking", or rather dressing, growing beard etc...and the good people is giving in to this. Instead of strengthening moral values in everyone's minds, the clerics are trying to herd the gullible like the dogs would frighten the sheeps. Please don't tell me that the clerics are the shepherd...we all know who the shepherd is. Dogs also have a mind of their own, and the shepherd may have a problem with them who want to reap all the political leverage they can get for whatever purpose their confused minds may think is his will.

  15. From what I read, Munira Moosa is not objecting women wearing burqa and praying 5 times a day. She specifically raised issues like
    - the irony of burga and PVC-cat suit clad women
    - stay at home women (which would be the majority of women in the Maldives) listening to NOTHING but dharus.. dharus that
    -devalue women like there is no tomorrow!!!

    I do understand "the clash of civilization" argument, which by the way is not George Bush's idea, but Samuel Huntington's or even something good old Sam got from Leo Strauss.. But in this clash of civilization, women can't go down as ޣަރީނާ މުދާ! I don't care how people live as long as each person gets their own space. Respect!

    Is a Maldivian only a Maldivian if s/he is happy to listen to the Qur’an or some Dharus or another all day, every day?

    Is a Maldivian only a Maldivian if s/he believes that women are inferior to men?

  16. couldn't agree with you more!
    Does democracy mean public opinion is better no matter how bizzare or ill-informed it is?

  17. Ali at Lexington has explained my thoughts quite well.

    The hypocrisy of some of the people who sympathize with the west (and some who subscribe to the Saudi style Islam label)are unbelievable.

    I fail to see difference between people who espouse western values alien to our culture and Islam and those people who advocate for a stricter interpretation of Islam that is intolerant of other opposing views.

    Munirah, your education has obviously taught you only one end of the story. Halaa dhan'deege dekolhu balan vaane. 🙂

  18. Very well expressed Munirah.

    The present government realizes that they are sleeping with the enemy and have made scapegoats of Maldivians who chose to live a moderate religious lifestyle, one where tolerance was practised as far as religious beliefs were concerned. Unfortunately, the present govt is so concerned with this "facade" of a coalition as well as consolidating power, that they do not mind sleeping with the enemy.

    In a span of one year, the pervasive wave of extremism thats taken root will be harder any govt to now undo. While the power struggle continues between the MDP and DRP, the extremists have very strategically infiltrated the minds of a majority of Maldivians, esp those living in the atolls.

    To the extremist, there is no such thing as democracy, human rights (in the sense that we know of), nor such thing as human development (against which growth is measured internationally) or Tolerance. They say otherwise, but the truth is the extremist thinker does not recognize the values of a civilized society where men and women have equal rights. He does not recognize a world where children will not be subjugated to read only the quran and hadith. He accepts a world where capital punishment is enforced should you not wear the hijab (as this is required by religion as they say and if you do not, you are thereby disobeying Allah), where in the name of religion you can kill the unbelievers and you would gain Heaven.

  19. this is Maldives country where you are forced to be a muslim which is against the principals of Islam itself. I hope god dose not send a tsunami as Maldivians are not following what god ask. God never asked people to be forced to be muslim ..or they should be deprived of there citizenship if they are not a muslim. This acts could lead us to been cursed by god. Beware.

  20. Another brilliant article Munirah! In a democracy all issues are subject to being freely debated in public and all laws are subject to being amended, repealed or replaced as a result of such debate. Nothing ought to be sacrosanct other than democracy itself. This is not the case in the Maldives, where sovereignty is not vested in the people; and some people are adamant it will never be. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that other than the fact that we are being told that the Maldives is a democracy. That is an insincere misrepresentation of fact. There are still, for instance, Stone Age tribes left in the Amazon rain forests. There is nothing wrong with that either and no one misrepresents otherwise. I am amused at how strongly the eminently venerable ones decry emulating the unclean infidels; while at the same time have no qualms over using the advanced technology of those infidels to further their cause. One wonders why they cannot preserve their proud identity and use tom-toms and dromedaries. You have attracted some interesting comments, Munirah. Someone said “We cannot create a community in which our grandparents would have been appalled to live.” I believe we did exactly that sometime in the twelfth century. Someone else seems to think democracy is a fit-all term that can be applied to just about anything. There were others who had similar ideas in recent history. Kim Il-Sung called his outfit the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea while Walter Ulbricht called his, the German Democratic Republic.

  21. We were a moderate country all the way long since the conversion to Islam. It was only the 20th century we first compiled a constitution and now have imposed Islam as the religion for Maldivians.

    Question is "Is faith a document".

    - Fornication is certainly banned in islam but don't some maldivians practice it with their very own child.
    - Naming an alcoholic could raise a defamation claim but its consumption by many MPs, Ministers, Mullahs, and moderates had always been a talk of the town.
    - We do not have gay marriages yet its the indulgence for many

    We are now experimenting a different time in the history of Islam. A new era of Islamic Scholars who sermons more to eradicate the existing sins and replace with new.

    What is Maldives going to be after 5 years. One thing is for sure !!! 90% bearded men and a drop in razor sales.
    Dear ANNI, save our razors....

  22. At this rate anni will leave this country in a worst state than maumoon did. the advantage maumoon had was he new how to challenge the radicals but anni appointed a bunch of radicals to control radicals and what they are really doing is empowering them. Anni is too weak and cowardly to act against mullaz all.. he can do is cut the salaries of civil servants coz he knows they are powerless and won t blow up them selves.

  23. "Yes, public opinion is vital to democracy. There is, however, no system in place to effectively measure public opinion in the Maldives. There are no regular polls, no surveys, no studies to gauge what the public’s view of anything is. Nobody has their finger on the public pulse, just a hand around its throat."

    This is so true.

  24. The question is why didn't the other parties voice there support towards the new regulation, why didn't the liberal come out into the streets expressing there support to the new regulation and the benefits it would bring?!! Are the majority of Maldivians lack the competency to comprehend whats in favor to them. Is the Maldivian majority hypocrites or still cant break out of the shell.

    The right questions wasn't answered in this article, shame Munira Moosa is a journalism and international relations major.

    Another rhetoric filled useless blog post by Minivan

  25. @MNJ: Maybe a majority of Maldivians think the the cons outweigh the benefits of the regulation. Or maybe they didn't have the conviction of the other side.

    What is clear is that in our society today, the streets of Male' is where public opinion is gauged. And on that basis, the Nay's had it on this occasion I'm afraid. And mind you, you cannot just assume that if people come to different conclusions than you do, that they are irrational,incompetent, hypocrites and backwards! Surely not from a forward thinking liberal, no no, sacrebleu.

    Also just because your view 'appears' to be in the minority on this occasion doesn't mean you have to throw the toys out of the pram. If your argument is so powerful and persuasive, surely you can get the mob onto the streets too. "Rhetoric filled useless blog" - sour grapes eh? 🙂

  26. In a democracy it is a must for the government to listen to public sentiments, and every thing need not go to the parliament.

    The mistake most Maldivians make is to mix culture with religion. Culture changes but religion dont. One can be modest and both religious, that doesnt mean one has to alter or propagate religious ideologies which do not exist.

    Having a western education doesnt mean one has to drink alchohol, maybe one could but thats his belief and culture, but dont try to make it legal for others.

    Wahabism is a common phrase, how many of you know how the word came. Mohamed bin wahab was a top religious scholar, and people named his followers wahabees. Beware when you use this word, al wahab is one of 99 names of Allah.

  27. Please, my friend. Do not give heed to the enemies of the Maldives calling you an anti-islamic whatever.

    You are a true patriot, a friend of the Nation and Liberty.

    Oh, and I'll tell you why there was no "pro-regulation" rioters out on the streets. The wahhaabiis have often used intimidation and terrorism to implement their ideas, and their religious texts demand the murder of their enemies, the enslavement of their women and the rape of their children. They lack armed force to combat the terrorists.

  28. You can't be an IR scholar, you are very ill-versed with the recent IR literature on Islamism, postcolonialism, modernity and democratization of the Third World. Your view of the world is much like that of Samuel L Huntington, or Bernard Lewis, a very divided and eurocentric one.

    It is in part foreign policy ideology that was propagated by these orientalist writers who relied on the process of 'othering' the Middle Eastern or Islamic subject, based on very superficial and extremely limited understanding of Islam. You are simply regurgitating such misguided foreign policy ideology from the post-Cold War period.

    It was Huntington who coined the term Clash of Civilizations, and clearly there is none but one created in order to continue a fear ridden society.

    Yes our society has a multitude of religiosities; some fundamentalist, must be distinguished from
    the more radicalized strands who are willing to engage in violence. This strand is a very small minority.

    Do not try to incite fear in people, also further polarizing this issue, if you do so you are adding to the continuation of this cycle of hatred. Any logical thinking Maldivian would know so, therefore you sensationalist tactics are quite redundant .

    Yes you make some valid points we are statistical disaster waiting to happen, nobody has a grasp of the figures and numbers and who wants what, this is because we have just come out of a 30 year dictatorship, but how long will we be able to say that?

    Either way neither Arabization nor Westernization can claim cultural authenticity in the Maldives. This is a common cultural identity crisis many countries suffer from after modernity or colonialism, this crisis or polarization is not in any way unique to the Maldives, and it has very little to do with Islam as a religion.

    Yes there has been a global rise in Islamic fundamentalism, but what about the evangelical movement that has been relentless in America and Europe, with clearly fascist, racist parties gaining popular support (ie BNP in the UK). Your arguments are dangerously one-sided and misinformed.

    Have you no knowledge of the fundamentalist Christian Right movement in the United States? Surprise, surprise Turkey is a more secular state than your America in all it's glory and MTV.

    What has happened is we are experiencing a revivalist movement of religiosity, yes it is global and it does not infer violence or chaos, it can be seen as a spiritualist movement. In addition we have and existing majority who practices the millenary synchretic form of Islam that has existed here, one which is more moderate, perhaps even compatible with western modernity and globalisation. Is it impossible for the both to intermingle and live side by side - no, it is surely possible.

    I suggest you go read Edward Said for all his flaws before you claim to be an intellectual, also read John Grey, and Mahmood Mamdani, I hope you get a better understanding of the situation of modern and premodern societies/subjects and it's interaction with the secular international system.

  29. @ M. Abrahamsen

    By John Grey I presume you mean John Gray and his work on modernity and its connections to Al-Qaeda?

    I also presume that given your propensity to academic name-dropping, you are familiar with the practise within academia of reading someone’s entire ‘body of work’, so to speak, before launching into criticisms of it?

    If you had been a little bit more rigorous in your method, as academics are wont to be, you would have realised that all the points you are making have already been made by yours truly in various articles that have been published on this very platform, including a heartfelt plea to read Edward Said, and an unequivocal denunciation of Samuel Huntington and his thesis. You may also have noticed, if you had deigned to look, that every reference to ‘radicalisation’ by me is placed within inverted commas – a practice designed to deny the term of the ontological certainty that most take as a given. Perhaps you are not familiar with such subtleties.

    I do not speak of the current state of affairs of the Maldives without any knowledge of IR – I simply do not feel the need to turn every newspaper article into a literature review of the field, or turn everything I write into a showcase of whatever knowledge I may be in possession of.

    My purpose is to observe, and comment on what I see – as I see it. And I see the Maldives being turned into a remote enclave comprising of blind followers of the sect of Wahhabism. This is the reality of the Maldivian experience – a reality that none of the authors that you and I both admire – have had the benefit of taking into account in the development of their various hypotheses. It is a unique variable – with its geography and a population that has been cut off from intellectual development and much of the global ‘Islam versus West’ debates for the last thirty years – that has not yet been included in any of the major studies of ‘radicalisation’. Nor has it yet been taken into account as a factor in the imagined ‘West versus Islam world’. It may well be Popper’s black swan as far as some of the existing theories are concerned.

    If what I see in the Maldives more closely resembles the theories put forward by those whom I disagree with (Huntington, Lewis) than those of whom I admire, then that is what I have to say, and what I will say. Remaining silent about the actuality of what I see lest it contradict the work of people I admire is a type of cowardice that I am not willing to engage in – either as an academic or a concerned citizen.

    Your ill-informed criticisms signal an unbecoming eagerness to discredit what I say by accusing me of fear-mongering and tarring me with the brush of Orientalism. I have no ‘my America in all its glory’ that I worship at the altar of, nor a ‘West’ that I am so enamoured with that it blinds me to the rest. Suggesting that I do, without reading my work and without familiarising yourself with my stance resembles, rather too closely for comfort, an attempt to make me into the Other – a practise I thought you disagree with? I doubt Said, so often denigrated for being brave enough to speak out, would have approved.

  30. @ Munira Moosa

    If I'm not wrong it is our present government who gave us the freedom of speech. right? so why can't "wahabees" express their opinion just like you did.

    What the "Wahabees" teach us is for the husband to be good to his wife, for the wife to be good to her husband, for children to respect and take care of their parents, for the parents to take good care of their children, for the commoner to be good to their neighbors and to respect the leaders of our community, not to drink alcohol, not to commit adultery, not to fornicate, etc, etc. all their teaching are beneficial to the community as a whole. so i ask you, whats wrong with that?

    or have they done any physical harm against you or anyone else for that matter?

    The part about hereafter, hell and heaven are for Muslims to follow. As you may be aware, the majority of us Maldivians (we know what that is) are still Muslims.

    Only second hand journalists incite fear and hatred to make them popular.

    Better journalists than yourself have found the beauty of Islam and embraced it. Yes, I'm talking of Yvonne Ridley.

    (do pardon my grammar, Im not a linguist nor a scholar 🙂 )

  31. @ Munira Moosa

    What? Cat got your tongue?

    come on, lets be honest. the reason why you and your supporters have your panties in a twist is because if Islam keeps spreading, the chances of drinking alcohol, fornicating, committing adulty and other bad habits would very like be lesser than it is now. is that not so?

    and just to keep you updated, the number of people who pray at mosques keep increasing. If MDP is responsible for the increase in practicing muslims, then my vote will always go for President Nasheed. So will others'.


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