How serious are cyber death threats?

In July 2009, blogger Hilath Rasheed broke news of an underage girl being kept as a concubine on his blog. Soon afterwards, he started receiving death threats online.

He was accused of being an infidel and anonymous commenters sent him messages warning him against walking in dark alleyways. They threatened to slash his throat and behead him.

Two years later, in June 2012, three men ambushed Hilath in a dark alleyway leading up to his apartment block, slashed his throat and left him for dead.

Recalling the events today, Hilath told Minivan News he had not taken cyber death threats seriously before the fatal attack. He had also suffered an assault in December 2011.

“I was naïve and uninformed that some Maldivian youngsters in gangs could be brainwashed to the extent of decapitating a fellow human in the name of Islam,” he said.

Doctors called Hilath’s recovery a miracle.

Death threats have become a norm in Maldivian cyberspace. Politicians, journalists, bloggers and social media users have reported receiving cyber death threats for a range of reasons, from their support of a particular political party to their advocacy of freedom of religion.

Minivan News has also learned death threats were issued in at least one of this week’s abductions by vigilante mobs prior to the act.

Eyewitnesses alleged gangsters and religious extremists carried out the abductions as part of an effort to identify cyber activists supporting atheism and secularism in the Maldives. The abductees were also accused of homosexuality and atheism and were asked to prove their faith in Islam, sources said.

“With the recent kidnappings of some Maldivians by an Islamist vigilant mob of about 40, on the pretext their victims are ‘laadheenee’ or ‘impious’, I will advise everyone to really be careful about any kinds of threats because now I believe they can turn real all too easily,” Hilath said.

The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) has also expressed concern over the prevalence of cyber threats of violence and urged victims to report threats made via Facebook, Twitter, or comments on blog posts to the Maldives Police Services.

“In light of recent events, at a time of high levels of intolerance, and increase in gang related violence, do not treat any form of cyber threat as an idle threat,” HRCM Vice President Ahmed Tholal said.

However, prominent blogger Yameen Rasheed said he does not trust the police to protect bloggers, especially those who advocate for freedom of religion. He noted the police had failed to take action against individuals who had attacked Hilath in the December 2011 assault, despite photographic evidence.

“There is nothing you can do. I do not believe police will take action. There are some among the police who sympathise with the attackers,” he said.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has also alleged that extremist ideologies are prevalent among the security forces.

Yameen, who has also received cyber threats, said his fellow bloggers in the Maldives blogosphere “don’t feel secure at all” in light of the recent abductions.

In a blog post on Tuesday, Yameen has suggested the government backs the individuals behind the abductions. He said he expects more threats for his blog posts, but feels the only precaution he can take is documenting and publicising the incidents.

Whistleblower Aishath Velezinee and Raajje TV journalist Asward Ibrahim Waheed, who both suffered physical violence after receiving death threats online, have also urged victims of cyber harassment to take precautions when threatened online.

Velezinee was stabbed in 2010 for her revelations of judicial corruption while Asward was nearly beaten to death in 2012 after writing reports critical of the government.

Both Velezinee and Asward also expressed low levels of confidence in the security forces’ ability to take action.

“I made public the private messages that had been sent to me. There was no other way but to make the public as aware as possible,” Velezinee said.

Speaking of harassment online, Velezinee said she was the victim of a smear campaign which labeled her as a drug addict and an infidel prior to the attack. “This is systematically done to justify the physical violence,” she said.

“Social media serves as a means of communication with the world. If they can silence social media users, it is a big win for them,” she said.

Asward said he believed the prevalence of death threats to be linked to a culture of accepting violence in the Maldives. In protests across the political spectrum, demonstrators call for people “to be hung, slaughtered, or killed,” he said. “Maldivians do not seem to call for discussion to solve issues.”

A media official at the Maldives Police Services told Minivan News today that cyber crimes are difficult to investigate due to challenges in tracing those who issue threats. A law on cyber crimes is needed to facilitate investigations, the police said.

A former law enforcement official who wished to remain anonymous also raised concerns over lack of legislation on cyber crimes, but said police must make use of their limited capacity to track down perpetrators in order to deter and limit the prevalence of online threats.

Former Deputy Prosecutor General Hussein Shameem has said threats issued on social media can be prosecuted under the Act on Prohibition of Threats and Use of Dangerous Weapons passed in 2010.

The Prosecutor General’s Office has pressed charges against individuals for threats made via phone calls and text messages, but have not yet received cases relating to social media and cyber threats, he said.

Other prominent figures who have eported receiving death threats via text messages and social media include former President Mohamed Nasheed, MDP MP Mariya Ahmed Didi, former Speaker Abdulla Shahid, ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives MP Ahmed Mahloof, and former Election Commission President Fuwad Thowfeek.

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30 thoughts on “How serious are cyber death threats?”

  1. When in doubt, condone pedophilia, rape, incest and murder. Then you won't be questioned about your true faith.

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  2. If you've like Hilath, who single-handedly exposed a child prostitution ring? Yeah, you're in danger.

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  3. If cyber threats are a crime, then writing anti-islam things are also a crime in maldives. There is always two sides to every coin.
    This article is a classic minivan news propaganda. Just vying for another western award.

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  4. ainthu,

    Stop confusing issues.

    Crimes are dealt within the criminal justice system. There are no two sides to vigilante mob justice.

    And furthermore, the people being threatened and attack are not necessarily writing 'anti-Islam things'.

    These are political critics, facebook page owners, secularist Maldivians, and pretty much anybody opposed to Wahhabism.

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  5. Ainth: And you will get an award from the Saudis and your masters too! I am sure they are very impressed and just delighted at your devotion. I think they might be wondering what you are doing so far away from the kitchen though.

    Your logic will make sense the day someone threatens to stab Islam.

    Wait, that doesn't make sense either.

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  6. Minivan is a propaganda machine of Nasheed and its so much biased .

    Whole this Islamic fundamentalism started only when western countries started to invade Afghan and Iraq.

    Those two wars had killed millions of innocent people and the children and other who had survived had been badly affected by the war. Those people and children were naturally against the foreign invasion and this is the root of today problem.

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  7. Accept or not, things are bound to be ugly when people start to take freedom over the limit. This is what these so called secular people are expecting. They want to provoke Maldivian Muslims by using vulgar mockery on their faith so hard that people would get angry. After that, when something unfortunate happens, they want to immediately get the international kuffar communities with intention of erasing Islam from Maldives.

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  8. And this is the reason why we have stopped offering your country as a choice in our travel packages.

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  9. Rasheed,

    It's been five centuries since Copernicus, and you still think the Universe revolves around you.

    The overwhelming majority of "the international kuffar communities" can't even locate Maldives on a map, much less spend sleepless nights trying to "erase Islam" from your precious country.

    Finally, you have no idea what secularism means.

    I'm a secularist, precisely because pseudo-theocratic regimes like Gayoom's has kept citizens like you fearful and paranoid about the rest of the world, chained in mind numbing ignorance. Meanwhile, the rest of the world has leaped far ahead and are keeping their citizens increasingly happy and comfortable.

    You couldn't care less if your children starve, and live without any security, so long as "international kuffar communities" don't steal your religion. That is very sad.

    I know the very idea will bring your whole world crashing down around you, but my Imam in India - who also happens to leads hundreds of thousands of people in prayer - was a secularist.

    http://uglyy.blogspot.com/2009/09/eid-message-dont-tolerate-accept.html

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  10. When you criticise crimes committed by Wahhabis like pedophilia, rape you become automatically anti Islam.

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  11. Spreading hate and hate propaganda in the name of Islam, is the most un-Islamic thing any muslim can do. Those who mock other religions or beliefs, for whatever reason, shows how shallow their own thinking is and it has nothing to do with Islam. So those who mock Islam claiming to be "Secular" and those who harass and go around beating people to instill "Islam" in them, are both equally shallow and ignorant on what Islam is. Better go educate yourselves first.

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  12. Shia Muslims: Kill the Sunnis. They are kafir. (See this in action in Iraq.)
    Sunni Muslims: Kill the Shias. They are kafir. (See it in action in Syria.)
    Wahhabi Muslims: Kill the Ahmadis. They are Kafir. (See this in action in Pakistan. Nobel laureate Abdus Salam is an Ahmadi Muslim.)
    Salafi Muslims: Kill all the other Muslims. They are kafir. (See this in action in the Maldives.)

    What kind of Muslim are you? Shia, Sunni, Wahhabi, Salafi, Ahmadi, Shafi, Maliki, Hanbali?

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  13. @Hero

    While you're whining about Iraq, take a moment to learn some history.

    America invaded Iraq in 2004, on the orders of Saudi oil barons, and justified their actions with false evidence (claimed WMDs).

    Now, you guys attack innocents, and justify your actions with false evidence; we know you gang paateys posted anti-islamic photos and tried to blame the admins and others of being anti-islamic.

    Where's the difference between you and your 'anti-islamic world'?

    That's right. NOTHING.

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  14. @ maldivian
    "We know you gang paateys posted anti-islamic photos and tried to blame the admins and others of being anti-islamic."

    If thats the case, why didn't those admins remove those photos?

    We know for a fact that secularists are deliberately posting inflammatory anti-islam hatred in facebook, blogs, minivan news, etc to provoke a response from people in this islamic country. so these secularists can be projected as victims to the international community. Also so that they can easily get assylum in western countries.

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  15. Maldivian on Thu, 12th Jun 2014 6:18 PM

    Take your own advice and take a moment to learn some history.

    Coalition forces invaded Iraq in 2003, not 2004.

    Here is the problem with many of the people who post on this site. They always divert from the issue of the article to problems in other countries and fail to admit the Maldives is at fault.

    You can't change the world over night, but you can solve the problems in your own country first and stand as an example to other nations.

    Hero is wrong about fundamentalist, the attack on 9/11 happened before the action was taken in Afghan and Iraq. The fact is the Taliban had been forcing fundamentalist views on the people of Afghan for 30 years. Now that is a factual history lesson.

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  16. @DMF

    Speaking of taking history,

    lets not forget who helped finance and bring the mujahideen into power early on in afganistan? The west, to fight their proxy war againt the soviets.

    Who sponsored the saudi state at its inception in the early 1900's? The west and the british.

    Who brought the brutal syrian regime into power post world war one? The west (the french to be particular).

    Heck who had initially provided arms to saddam early on? just to create some conflict in the middle east to fight iran? the west

    I can go on and on, the people who you are glorifying for "democracy" and "freedom" is who the evil, ugly, self righteous, vile creatures who had brought these evil oppressive people into power, and now both you and them are pointing fingers at the "bad guy", they created.

    Completely evil, filthy creatures like the idiots running this news paper, are doing their pet project, to instigate us, create tensions and project their own world views on us, while pretending that the rest of the world cannot survive without aid from the mighty west is ridiculous.

    The current issue at hand is horrible, the mob mentality of these cowards attacking the victims of these cyber attacks is plain pathetic and wrong.

    And the way to fix these issues is through talking and not pointing fingers and polarizing the country into two parts, and labeling one as savage, and the other as an oppressed. The so called "oppressed" people mentioned in these articles have gone out of their way to do everything in their power to insinuate and instigate (a predictable), overreaction by the later, and then play the victim.

    Hope you all (people who are ripping this society apart for some pet project of yours:the colonialist or "globalized" master minds behind minivan) suffer from some type of incurable cancer someday, and get struck by lightening, hit by a truck, get buried alive, get eaten by sharks, and get a flesh rotting disease all at the same time, because deep down you know what you are doing. And you will lay a society to waste by making the people rip each other to shreds, unless they accept your way of life.

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    1. @Damn

      The earlier comment (6:21am, Fri 13) was not originally published as the content at the end is so offensive, however, as you failed to register a valid email address I have decided to approve it as it was otherwise interesting.

      Please provide a genuine email address should you wish to discuss our comment guidelines further

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  17. @ainth

    Because you guys kept flooding the place, even after the admins removed it. They're real people - and they are no match for 50 of you flooding a group with pornography.

    So, ainth, when can I punish you for posting Mohammed cartoons? Or is there a provision in Maldivian law that allows paateys and drug peddlers to insult Islam freely?

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  18. @ainth

    You know that to reply further would only further expose you government lapdogs as the culprits behind the 'anti islamic content' - and furthermore expose your motives for attacking the people of Maldives.

    So stay silent and weep - for in your arrogance, you set yourselves up for your own doom.

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  19. @Maldivian
    "Maldivian" youre far from what the flag of the nation represents. Youre a traitor. The filth and scum, just like those idiots on minivan,

    Too scared to publish a comment minivan, like the previous one? Only let the idiots post their banter here right, any comment against the ideals of this newspaper would be only allowed if it is completely moronic or if its reasoning is poor, Any comment coherent enough to pose a threat to your disgusting agenda and motives is quietly deleted.

    May you rot you scum of the earth

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  20. @Daniel
    have seen more vulgar and tasteless things on the comments section before, at least what was said in that comment was fairly tame, and my sentiments earlier in the same comment is genuine.

    Only thing worth discussing is not guidelines, but a sense of responsibility, and the manner in which you folk (some of you) seem to approach such delicate issues is through the lenses of what certain people on some continent used to (and still do) think. Your mentality in dealing with these matters is similar to a certain Rudyard Kipling poem about a "burden". Instead of ethnicity which was the basis of that poem, now its political agendas. Always have to meddle with the affairs of us "little folk". Like your (super)friend in the news paper said about a "xenophobic hater", this is nothing about ethnicity. Globalization or whatever is not welcome when it is imposed, and you all are delusional to believe that you represent the "good", and not accepting what you are preaching is "evil". This country is falling apart because of the lack of initiative on the part of the people, whether they are the westernized drones following you folk around like puppets, with their worthless degrees in sociology,law or politics or some nonsense which wont bring about any physical or industrial benefit to the Maldivian or any society , and then there's these idiots who have no plans or initiative and are entirely dependent on a sense that everything will be taken care of if you just pray enough. We need builders and do-ers and not talkers with their pseudo education, and having a sense of love for your religion or your own people is no crime.

    And if the previous comment was offensive (It was surely intended to be), then I apologize. Should conduct ourselves in a gentlemanly manner despite ideological differences. As a human being atleast we owe each other that much.

    And it does not matter whether this comment is posted or not.

    Kind regards

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  21. Dear Damn,
    As per the "commenting guideline" minivan news follows, they will readily publish all sort of filth against islam. Most of those comments are written by same people using multiple names. Frequently they would copy and paste some random islamophobic rants from islam hating websites/ blogs on the internet. Minivan news would happily publish comments & opinions mocking Allah, the prophet, the sharia and all things Islam. Thats the whole purpose of this website.
    On the other hand, genuine comments exposing the malice of the secularists / those working in this website and those commenting to defend their faith from unfair attacks are deleted or edited. Or it would only appear on the personal facebook/ twitter accounts of those running this website. Its not a coincidence that all the comments deleted / unpublished are from the religious side of the debate.
    What we need to do is make the public aware of the evil plots of these people. So, they will avoid giving interviews and sponserships to this website. We should start petitions to the business like ooredoo and sri lanka airlines informing how their money is being used by these people; to spread hate and discord in our islamic country.

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  22. Minivan news has double standards always. They claimed to be doing responsible journalism but doing one sided biased journalism.

    Minivan news and victims of Anni disease think that West is going to implant Anni as the President of this nation.

    This moron can only dream about that and we the Maldivian decides who will be our leaders and not the foreigners.

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  23. Man "Damn", you know I'm on the right trail when you drug-peddling paateys panic like that. Did I hit a nerve somewhere?

    Here's what happens to people who are doers and builders in this country; they become targets of false-flag operations, get accused of laadheeneeism/whateverism, and as you so well demonstrated for all of us; finally get marked as 'traitors' who follow a 'different culture' and are treated as a 'threat to the sovirginity of the State'.

    Yes, we're considered filth and scum - to be removed so you can get back to living your life without having to ponder how morally wrong you so-called muslims are.

    But you know what? I'm fine with being filth and scum. I know - yes, from the first day I refused to obey, I knew that I would be hunted, even killed because I dared to speak the truth to expose your kind's hypocrisy. But even though you may not believe in Judgement Day. our paatey gangs cannot touch me when it happens.

    Now, if your flag represents hypocrisy, then as Allah is my witness, I swear not to stand for it - and you can stuff your flag where the sun dont shine.

    So what if I'm a traitor? Yes - I have defected from decadence.

    And that is a crime you can never forgive me for.

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  24. Man “Damn”, you know I’m on the right trail when you drug-peddling paateys panic like that. Did I hit a nerve somewhere?

    Here’s what happens to people who are doers and builders in this country; they become targets of false-flag operations, get accused of laadheeneeism/whateverism, and as you so well demonstrated for all of us; finally get marked as ‘traitors’ who follow a ‘different culture’ and are treated as a ‘threat to the sovirginity of the State’.
    Yes, we’re considered filth and scum – to be removed so you can get back to living your life without having to ponder how morally wrong you so-called muslims are.
    But you know what? I’m fine with being filth and scum. I know – yes, from the first day I refused to obey, I knew that I would be hunted, even killed because I dared to speak the truth to expose your kind’s hypocrisy. But even though you may not believe in Judgement Day. Your paatey gangs cannot touch me when it happens.

    Now, if your flag represents hypocrisy, then as Allah is my witness, I swear not to stand for it – and you can stuff your flag where the sun dont shine.
    So what if I’m a traitor? Yes – I have defected from decadence.

    And that is a crime you can never forgive me for.

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