President of the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and former president, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, has claimed the Maldives now dominated by people belonging to the “Islamic” ideology and those belonging to the “anti-Islamic” ideology.
Gayoom’s remarks come shortly after public outrage over former President Mohamed Nasheed’s allegedly “laadheenee”(secular) remarks made during the speech he gave at the University of Copenhagen on the subject of the economics of climate change.
During his address, Nasheed stated the Maldivian population had largely rejected Islamic extremism, and, in a veiled reference to the Adhaalath Party, noted that “the Islamists were never a credible electoral threat.”
Following the speech, the religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) and Gayoom’s own party PPM issued statements condemning the remarks Nasheed had made.
Subsequently, a protest was launched by a group of hundreds – thought largely to represent supporters of the government-aligned AP – who in certain cases called to “hang Nasheed to death”.
AP last month publicly pledged its support to President Waheed by announcing plans to form a coalition with his Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP) ahead of elections scheduled for September this year.
During a dinner held at Nasandhura Palace Hotel on Monday (April 29) night, Gayoom claimed that those belonging to the laadheenee ideology operated as a foreign organisation to change the country, and that Maldivians needed to decide on where they stood. The comments were made at a dinner to honour the services of his Gayoom’s daughter Yumna Maumoon, who had resigned from the secretary general position of the PPM.
The former President, who ruled the Maldives unopposed for six consecutive five-year presidential terms, claimed many people believed the country had two political ideologies.
Gayoom added that in his view, these two ideologies were that of those who stood up for Islam and the nation and those who did not.
“These are the two options left on our table. We need to choose from one of these ideologies. We are, by the will of Allah, those who uphold the nation and Islam. PPM represents the aspirations of a nationalistic Islamic state. It is also the same aspirations represented by those who support PPM,” Gayoom said. “Those who are at the other end are anti-national and anti-Islamic people. They are attempting to install their own views among us, trying to transform us into the West.”
Gayoom further alleged that those standing by the anti-Islamic ideology wanted to destroy the independence and sovereignty of the Maldivian people, and “put the country in control of an anti-Islamic organisation”.
“We really need to understand and comprehend this fact. We have to carry out a lot of hard work to prove that our nation comes first, for the sake of this country, for the sake of our beloved people,” he stressed.
Gayoom contended that should the people of the Maldives fail to defend the country from anti-Islamic forces, it would mean the slowly beginning of “imported cultures” that the country was unfamiliar with.
“They will try to bring in another culture. A culture that we are not familiar with, a culture that represents anti-national, anti-religious beliefs and ideologies,” he added.
During his speech, Gayoom also emphasised the importance of ensuring that his half brother Yameen Abdul Gayoom was elected president in September.
Both Gayoom’s PPM and the religious conservative Adhaalath Party have attacked Nasheed for his remarks in Denmark.
The Adhaalath Party claimed that Nasheed had misled the Danish audience on extremism in the Maldives.
“Nasheed misled them about the party he fears and envies most, the Adhaalath Party. Nasheed knows very well that the Adhaalath Party is not a party that has no power and influence, unlike what he said in Denmark,” read the party’s statement.
The party accused Nasheed of “placing idols” in Maldivian lands – a reference to the SAARC monuments gifted to the country by other South Asian nations during the 2011 SAARC Summit hosted in Addu Atoll – and of “giving our assets to foreigners” – a reference to the concession agreement to manage and upgrade the international airport granted to Indian firm GMR.
In his address, the former President acknowledged that there was “a lot of xenophobia, Islamic rhetoric and intolerance going on in the Maldives”, and noted the destruction of 12-century Buddhist statues, manuscripts, and other evidence of the Maldives’ pre-Islamic history.
“The vast majority of our society very tolerant people. If all this Islamist rhetoric is removed from official discourse, there will be a much more liberal society. I assure you the rhetoric will be removed from official discourse,” he said.
The Adhaalath Party meanwhile expressed astonishment “that there are a few Maldivians joining [Nasheed] in his work to get another chance to brainwash the Maldivian people. God willing Mohamed Nasheed will not be able to come to power ever again,” the party said.
“Nasheed shamed the nation”: PPM
The PPM similarly condemned Nasheed, claiming his remarks about Islam would disgrace the Maldives in front of other Islamic states.
The party further claimed that it was totally unacceptable for a Muslim to claim that there lay a need for an alternative Quran and the Hadith.
“A former president of a 100 percent Islamic nation speaking in such a fashion, abusing the religion of Islam and mocking Prophet Muhammed is a derogatory act that brings disgrace to the country in front of other Islamic nations,” read the statement.
The PPM alleged that Nasheed during his time as the president had spoken against certain principles of Islam in the bid to appease non-Muslims, such as allowing SAARC nations to gift monuments to the Maldives.
“Bringing a person like Nasheed back to power will be the worst decision people of this country will make, as it will be a huge blow struck against the nation and Islam,” the PPM contended.
Sold out Islam to bring about a coup, says Nasheed
In response to the remarks made by his political rivals, Nasheed addressing a rally held in the island of Bilehdhoo in Faafu Atoll on Sunday night, claimed that politicians who disguised themselves as religious scholars had “sold out Islam” to topple his democratic government on February 2012.
“There is no greater sin in Islam than to orchestrate a coup,” Nasheed claimed.
“Wearing hats of sheikhs and religious scholars, they have committed a huge sin, an act which is absolutely haram. Today, this country has a haram government. Being a 100 percent Muslim country, we must not let them continue carrying out this haram act in front of our eyes. God willing, we will win this presidential election in one round,” he added.
During his speech, Nasheed spoke of the rhetoric used by political parties had against his administration prior to the contentious transfer of power in February 2012.
“In their ploy to topple our government, they spoke of two things. One is that it was for the sake of religion. In this context, one issue they raised was that the management of Ghiyasudheen School [in Male’] included foreigners. Meanwhile, we can clearly see that even here the principal is a foreigner, the teachers are foreigners.”
“After having preached this against Ghiyasudheen School, today it is the children of these religious scholars who are enrolled to study in that school. [Adhaalath Party MP] Muhthalib’s child goes to that school. The Supreme Court Judges’ children also go to that school. All the religious scholars have their children enrolled in this school, and this is because it is a school where the educational standards are very high,” Nasheed said.
“They toppled our government because we were establishing that school, and yet today their children are enrolled there,” he claimed.
“Maldivians have never accepted that religious scholars should get entangled in worldly political matters. They are pious, righteous people who should be advising people like us on religious matters. It will not do when today they themselves are coming out and drafting laws to govern massage parlours,” Nasheed said.
“All of this is clear to us Maldivians now: a coup d’etat was brought about in the Maldives, and this coup was orchestrated by selling out the religion of Islam.”