Human rights NGOs criticise spread of “perverse thinking and ignorant practices”

A coalition of human rights NGOs have issued a statement noting “with concern and regret” that certain preachers “have recently begun to portray Islam as a religion that demeans women and children.”

“Religious sermons that portray and speak of women as people who exist simply to gratify the sexual desires of men, on earth and in paradise, fail to take into consideration the respect and honour granted to women in Islam,” the NGOs claimed.

“We believe that the message perpetuated through sermons that the purpose of achieving paradise is to engage in sexual acts forbidden on earth, and to enjoy pleasures forbidden on earth, is the work of some people to impress upon the public that Islam is a backward religion.”

The NGOs’ statement, signed by the Maldivian Detainee Network, Transparency Maldives, Rights for All, Maldives Aid, Madulu, Democracy House and Strength of Society, claimed that “all Abrahamic religions uphold the dignity and respect of all human beings, and Islam in particular provided protection and safety for women and children who were being abused in Arab societies, [that were] entrenched in the ignorance of dark ages.

“Hence, to render commonplace the perverse thinking and ignorant practices of those days in the name of Islam would be to facilitate similar ignorance and malice.”

The NGOs criticised the Ministry of Islamic Affairs “for not working in their full capacity to regulate or halt the views and acts propagated by those who endorse extreme views,” and requested that government play its “important role” in countering these types of views “propagated in the name of Islam.”

The statement comes after President Mohamed Nasheed was heavily criticised by the religiously conservative Adhaalath Party for “trying to convey irreligious views to the beloved Muslim citizens of the Maldives” during his weekly radio address.

In his address, the President noted that “a large number of young women and young men are requesting that the government obstruct and stop these things from happening.”

“We have freedom of expression; if you are unhappy with views expressed by one group, in my mind the intelligent thing to do is for another group to express the contrary view, a second opinion, or alternative views,” he said. “People can then choose the path they believe.”

However a statement from the Adhaalath party said that the president’s remarks about giving public space to views opposed to the tenets and commandments of Islam were tantamount “to a call for allowing them.”

“In this 100 per cent Islamic country, for the president to call for views opposed to Islam is something that the Adhaalath party is extremely concerned about,” the party said.

“People should only talk about Islam with full religious knowledge. Talking about religious tenets and judgments without proper knowledge is prohibited in Islam.”

The Adhaalath party called on the president to “not be swayed by those who believe irreligious philosophies or the anti-Islamic rhetoric of those opposed to Islam, and not to give opportunity for any religion other than Islam in this country.”

In his opening address to the Maldives Donor Conference 2010, President Nasheed revealed he had “often been criticised by liberal Maldivians because I refuse to censor religious groups.”

“My point is this: the ends do not justify the means,” he told the donors. “People with broader viewpoints must become more active, to create a tolerant society.”

The president revealed that a group of 32 concerned young people had recently visited him, “furious about the rise in extremism.”

“To my mind, these are just the sort of people who need to reclaim civil society, if they want to foster a more open-minded society,” Nasheed said. “Liberally-minded Maldivians must organise and reclaim civil society if they want to win this battle of ideas.”

Sheikh Abdulla Jameel told Minivan News today that when giving a sermon, “we have to tell it as it is.”

”Whether people like it or not, we can’t add or remove anything,” he said. “Nobody can change something stated in the Qur’an, and in the Qur’an it says that no one can [challenge] the orders of God or the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).”

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs declined to comment in the absence of Minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari, who is currently visiting Saudi Arabia, and State Minister Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, who is in the United States.

Local Islamic NGO Jamiyathul Salaf also did not respond to Minivan News’ enquiries at time of press.

Politics and religion

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) issued a statement yesterday in support of the President, condemning the Adhaalath party for “using religion as a [political] weapon”.

“For the Adhaalath party to falsely accuse the president after remaining silent when the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) obstructed and stopped a religious sermon organised by MDP last Thursday night, 25 March 2010, causing a disturbance and spilling the blood of many Maldivian citizens, casts doubt on their intentions,” the party said.

The MDP acknowledged that Article 1 of the Religious Unity Act, stating that Maldivian citizens are followers of Islam, belonging to the same sect and sharing one nationality, was “essential for protecting Maldivian independence and sovereignty and ensuring peace and security”, and that promoting religious unity among Maldivians “is obligatory upon both the government and the people.”

Regarding the President’s comments in his radio address and speech at the donor conference, “the party believes that [the president’s] intention was to share some people’s opinions with the public and give an opportunity for religious scholars to clarify the issue.”

Instead of addressing the opinions expressed by the young people who visited the President, the MDP said, “the Adhaalath party falsely accused the President of expressing views contrary to Islam and made political rivalry their main concern.”

The statement concluded by advising the Adhaalath party “to stop casting aspersions” on the president and “cease using religion as a tool to achieve political ends.”


34 thoughts on “Human rights NGOs criticise spread of “perverse thinking and ignorant practices””

  1. “People should only talk about Islam with full religious knowledge. Talking about religious tenets and judgments without proper knowledge is prohibited in Islam.”

    How convenient! Anyone who says anything against Adalath is an apostate? Stop this nonsense!

  2. Only the NGO's are brave enough to stand up against these people. We are heading towards an Islamic state and no one dare criticize these Sheikhs. Is this the freedom we fought for? Is this the democracy Anni spent so much time in jail for.
    Lets all get together and stand up against it.

  3. Ofcourse, we will get a whole bunch of know it alls writing all sorts of Hadiths as comments. For those people I want to say, there are many people who can oppose or better explain your hadiths but they are not amongst us Maldivians. We don't have Muslim scholars well versed enough to propagate a moderate form of Islam. Unfortunately, these days, Islam is only the brand of Islam you find in Afghanistan and Pakistan, everything else is absolute.

    I dont know where but somewhere there is a Hadith which states that there will come a day when sheikhs are the ones who are corrupting people.

    As for me, I am leaving this country.

  4. "Talking about religious tenets and judgments without proper knowledge is prohibited in Islam."

    And thus came the Theocracy.

    It is about time the President spoke out about the onslaught of extremist preachers in the Maldives.

    It is, nevertheless, unfortunate that he still cannot ensure the security of the average, liberal Maldivian to assemble together and condemn the Mullahs in his government for their anti-women rhetoric.

    The tone of their voice when they say religious discussion is 'Forbidden' to ordinary people without a degree from a Middle eastern Madrassa reminds one of the Dark Ages in Christian Europe where ordinary folk were forcefully kept ignorant, exploited and utterly repressed by the Catholic church for centuries.

    Islam has been a religion of enlightenment - which can ONLY come from open discussion.

    Whenever this freedom of expression has been withdrawn by greedy political mullahs, it has resulted in Taliban-style theocracies.

    One only needs to read about the causes behind the utter decline of Islam from the heights it achieved in the early days, never to recover.

    Fundamentalism is a disease, and it must be crushed ruthlessly if society is to survive.

  5. It would seem that the wisest thing for the 2 major parties, i.e. the MDP and DRP could do is to kick the Adhalaathu party out of power and stop giving this unelected, regressive folk a political legitimacy that they don't deserve.

    The open abuse and absolute power by the fundamentalist party over the last year would be shocking to any democratic minded person.

  6. do they have to mention the...
    "Local Islamic NGO Jamiyathul Salaf also did not respond to Minivan News’ enquiries at time of press."
    How are the Salafes, why does minivan is so concerned about them.
    how needs their openion any way

  7. It would be well appreciated if these NGOs can somehow arrange lectures in public spaces by scholars with more moderate views, even if we have to bring them from abroad.
    And there ought to be some way that we can check the credentials of these so called Sheikhs who are giving out these extremist views.

  8. President Nasheed seems to be a bloody hypocrite. He condemns religious fundamentalism on the one hand and appoint fundamentalists to the executive on the ther hand.

  9. “To my mind, these are just the sort of people who need to reclaim civil society, if they want to foster a more open-minded society,” Nasheed said. “Liberally-minded Maldivians must organise and reclaim civil society if they want to win this battle of ideas.” - President Nasheed.

    Orders received and verified.

    We will carry out the President's directive by all means; and an unprovoked attack against our movement will be construed as an attack against our democratically elected president; an act of war - and we shall respond in kind.

  10. I can quite relate to this statement. Let me just add to the chorus, affirming its core message.

  11. One of the most successful Muslim communities worldwide is the Bohra's. Maybe we can learn something from them.

  12. I wonder if some that has given anti-Islam comments, have actually studied Islam in depth or even studied liberalism? Im guessing a few might have studied liberalism, but not Islam. Then there are some that havent studied either, but tend to give comments in a way which suggest they are experts in it. One might claim that we must save Maldives from what they see as a hostile version of Islam which does not give space to good old liberalism, but if we think about it.. is not our country a Muslim country to start with? Hence liberalism can only be second to Islam in Maldives.

    In addition, this is a time of information technology where anyone can go online to see how great liberalism is really and if liberal societies practice what they preach. Was it not the liberal societies that:

    - plundered Latin America and Africa of its natural resources.
    - Supported warlords and dictators which supports their foreign interest.

    When we know the facts behind American foreign policy, then it is hard to think that their concern for democracy in other countries are really in good faith. Its history as well as Britain's history shows constant double standard which is very secretive and selfish. When we do not take our time to go through books to learn in depth about different histories, our knowledge is limited - understandably. It shows the importance of knowledge always in every situation. It also shows the hypocrisy of states that claims to follow liberalism. What I am seeing is political leaders slowly changing liberalism to a more pick and choose liberalism which only allows freedom of speech to those that supports western culture. That is easy to do since not much in the third world are really educated about liberalism, but one thing people cannot change to fit their easy life is Islam which is strong and cannot be modified.

  13. hur aleen (women in paradise) was mentioned in quran various times and also explains some of their characteristics so we cant argue with that, and islam cant be reformed according to the views of the current society,prophet peace be upon him had finished the risala most perfectly so we cant argue that,
    drp seems to take part with adhaalath, quite a surprise when they tortured all the sheiks during their regime,people who deny the hur aleen should spent some time with the holy quran, extremism is not part of islam, i agree to that, but we arent hearing anything close to extremism here except from the dots,

  14. Democracy does NOT mean to demean women and children - whether it is written in the Holy Quran, or not.

    Congratulations that the NGOs made a stand against that! We should sometimes use our common sense and implement human rights into our society instead of citing religious verses.

  15. NGOs should have stood up against it earlier. the religious extremists in Maldives is using the freedom enshrined in the constitution to create hate speech which is illegal in most modern democracies even in the name of freedom of expression.

  16. What is it with these sheikhs and virgins? Don't they prefer women with some experience in the bedroom?

  17. When 35 people went and complained to the president that the religious sermons given in the Maldives are against womenS rights, he heavily criticized Adhaalath party and religious scholars.BUT WHEN THOUSANDS OF LETTERS WAS SENT TO THE PRESIDENT TO STOP THE SALE OF ALCOHOL IN THE LOCAL COMMUNITIES HE DIDN'T GIVE A SHIT.WHEN 90 NGO,s STOOD AGAINST THE SALE OF ALCOHOL THE PRESIDENT AGAIN DIDN'T GIVE A SHIT.IF THIS IS THE DEMOCRACY YOU ARE TRYING TO ESTABLISH HERE ,THAN GET LOST !

  18. in a democracy there should be a mechanism for viewing the ideas of minorities. extremism would not have taken over if it were suppressed. the sad part though is the so called liberals are not liberal enough to tolerate view points that oppose theirs, same as the extremists.
    and for the extremists, please remember that majority is not that counts! try to tolerate different segments of the society. majority of the world is not muslims. and the majority of the muslims is not extremists, not even thinkers like you. over 80% of the world doesn't care who Allah is!

  19. @Muad - an "educated" person like you should realise that some of these mullahs have the same attitude that led the West to commit the atrocities you talk about. I mean attitudes such as the feeling of self-superiority and lack of respect for the weak, basic human rights, human dignity and democracy.

    Sadly we have seen these same attitudes come through in the speeches given by several of the so called "Dhannabeykalun".

    Isnt it a double standard that you despise the West because of this attitude and not when the attitude is present among us. As you've said we are a Muslim society and it is high time that someone had the courage to stand up to protect Islam.

  20. This is not the first time NGO stood against issues they did stood up against political suppression, child abuse, violence against women, poverty, Environment, saving the civil service from political influence ( known as green campaign), corruption, ill-treatment of human, murderers and street violence. It was very courageous of them to stand up against these lunatics ideologies speared in the anme of islam, I am sure the human rights NGOs would have the majority of Maldives on there side against these fanatics and the ideologies. Pls. don’t stop NGOs..

  21. Most Maldivian are extremist one way or the other.When it comes to politics We DRP extremists MDP extremists and so on. When it comes to partying, the same party extremists. Sex no difference. Like religious extremists we have non believer extremists. The final and most dangerous type of extremists come as business men disguised as politicians. Why not break the platform where these extremists breed. They breed in our law.The rest will be very easy .

  22. Karusee,
    People like you who don't know the basic principles of religions shouldn't be commenting. The Christians ,Jew and the Muslims they all believe in one God that is Allah(SWA)(that's how Muslims call their God).The most significant difference is the Jews and Christians called their messengers as the son of their ALLAH(SWA).Plus they denied the last Messenger(SAW).But still they believe in ALLAH (SWA)as their GOD.These two religions are part of Islam and its is compulsory on each Muslim to believe so if they are to become Muslims.
    People like you are minority who judge right and wrong according to your own desires.And change the meaning of Quran according to your point of view.
    Mr.Nasheed could have just given an answer to the letters and to the call of NGO's.But he refused.I know that he had to listen to everyone.But he don't have to listen to the hypocrites who speak against Islam in this nation.He is no better than Maumoonn!!

  23. hey rilwan..who said he is better than maumoon. Anni is facilitating a more and greater evil than maumoon. That is Islamic extremism. We don t wont Maldives to have many things they want in Maldives to be. We don’t want people to be beheaded in the name of anything. we don’t want non Muslims to be discriminated. we don’t won’t our girl children to be married at the age of 8. We don’t won’t our social fabric worn out and women walking inside tents and there empowerment to go down the drain. We don’t sharia law executed. We need to move forward not go back ward into Stone Age. Also agree or not Majority of Maldives are moderate and liberal. If not why so much fuss about a few people who went to president? Why are they sacred of such a few no. the only thing the extremist got in here is they are a bit organized despite there numbers are few. Moderate and liberal Maldives will bring this segment in our society down. watch and see. The voices made showed there are people not sacred of extremists and they will stand up.

  24. genee
    worl muslim communities only 1% is moderate islam.
    so maldivians are traditional islam accepting citizens, salaf/wahhabism is the most authentic branch of traditional islam,it is only a few minority of people like you who believes in moderate islam

  25. where did you get these figures? i sure would like a source. and how do you define traditional muslims, fundamentalists and moderate muslims? and which of these do the wahabi/salafi sect fall into?

  26. (answer to ur question)
    go to this link and youll find a book caled 500 most influential muslims, download it, and the figures and a short history and how the groups are classified will appear in the first few pages, salaf/wahab is the most closest in regard to the prophet(sa) and so they fall under traditional, but i think the dots will fall under fundamentalists, and the liberal, secular fall under moderate/modern.

  27. A banner calling for peace was torn not three days after it was placed there. This speaks volumes of the true mindset of these so-called muslims.

  28. @Rilwan:

    The 30 people were more powerful than all the local NGOs combined. If you know an atom of how the game of politics is played, politicians only cater to the interests of the few but wealthy and politically powerful lobby groups. It has nothing to do with a president's religiosity -- or lack thereof.

    @Ahmed Anony:

    I told you these Wahhabis and Salafists are anti-Islam; so they tore up Islam's true message of peace, acceptance and tolerance. We need to ensure that the fothigandu survives there on thoshigandu as long as Maldives' society survive over water.

    The day we are underwater, I'll hopefully hide in your sub- marine- city, Pandemonium...


  29. ...And you are absolutely right @Ahmed Anony: Arab petrodollars are not enough. There are now more powerful Forces acting against the Taliban in Maldives and elsewhere...

  30. Hurrah! I feel like Frodo already -- having just now won the war against Sauron (extremism)!!!

  31. Hey ppls. Please stop your talking. because that you son,t know about the religion. even you ppl don't know how to perform the prayers.


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