Petition demands MP apologise for ‘discriminatory and bigoted’ tweets

An online petition has been launched calling for ruling party MP Riyaz Rasheed to publicly apologise for saying “islanders” will not be allowed to come to protest in Malé.

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) estimates about 7,000 people traveled to the capital from across the country to participate in the May Day mass anti-government demonstration.

Raajje therey meehun [islanders] will no longer have the opportunity to come to Malé, protest on the streets of Malé, assault and harm police,” the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP for Thaa Vilifushi tweeted on Thursday.

“Islanders cannot come to protest in Malé anymore. The security forces will not give that opportunity anymore,” he tweeted yesterday.

Boatloads of opposition supporters converged on Malé on May 1 for the largest anti-government protest in over a decade.

Nearly 200 people were arrested following a police crackdown on the 20,000-strong protest march. Police used tear gas, stun grenades, pepper spray and baton charges to disperse protesters when they attempted to enter the restricted Republic Square. Dozens of protesters were injured in clashes and a Specialist Operations (SO) police officer was severely beaten.

The opposition ‘Maldivians against tyranny’ alliance has since announced that it is planning to stage another mass demonstration in Malé.

Riyaz’s tweets has sparked an outcry on social media with many Twitter users referring to constitutional rights to protest and travel within the Maldives.

However, the lawmaker remains defiant in the face of the public outrage, saying the constitutional provisions do not allow “arson and beating police.”

“No matter how angry MDP gets, islanders should not be allowed to come to protest and create turmoil in Malé,” the PPM parliamentary group deputy leader tweeted last night.

The controversy comes ahead of a by-election due to take place on June 6 for the vacant Dhiggaru constituency parliament seat. The PPM is fielding former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s son Faris Maumoon as the ruling coalition candidate.

The Avaaz petition was meanwhile launched yesterday and has 246 signatures as of the time of publication.

The petition urges Riyaz to “publicly apologise for his discriminatory and bigoted views against people who are not from Malé.”

It referred to articles 41 and 32 of the constitution, which guarantees freedom of assembly and the right to travel within the Maldives.

“As a Member of Parliament, who is constitutionally obliged to advocate for the rights of ALL citizens, we believe MP Riyaz Rasheed’s views are completely unacceptable and abhorrent,” reads the petition.

According to the 2014 census, 39 percent of the Maldives’ 341,256 population resides in Malé, one of the world’s most densely populated cities.

In the past three decades, thousands of people from the atolls have migrated to the capital in search of jobs, better education and healthcare, making Malé a congested city of exorbitant rents.

The UNDP’s Human Development Index report released last year revealed stark inequalities between Malé and the rest of the country.

“Where one is born within the Maldives determines many of the opportunities and choices available to a person,” the report stated.

“Come to Male’ to pay rent and beg with ministers. Don’t come to Male’ for your rights!”

“Islanders should not come to Male’ for any other reason except paying rent.”


6 thoughts on “Petition demands MP apologise for ‘discriminatory and bigoted’ tweets”

  1. Riaz rasheed immidiatly should resin and apologies to people of country. If not yameen should through him out.

  2. I am sure if this guy appeared in the old west, he would have already been lynched!

  3. This is the type of thinking that slows down any progress- that some people are less deserving than others.

  4. Raajje there meehun is a derogatory word used by the people who lived in the island of Male and this word was highly contentious . MP using this word was deliberate and clearly his intension was to show disrespect to those who live in outside of Male islands. The reason why other islanders lacked education and intelligence was due to isolation imposed by those who considered them as the owners of Maldives Islands and setup their reign in Male and treated Islanders outside Male’ as second class citizen , the word was used by Male elite in the olden days who somehow were bit smarter than the people from different islands due to much exposure and education . It is obvious that people who lack education and live in isolation are less smart, and of course the MP is from different Island than Male’, and the very behavior and attitude of MP confirms how ignorant an Islander can be because obviously the MP didn’t have education which was not possible for him in his island and his childhood isolation in an Island made him stupid.

  5. This is a classic example of Mark Twain's famous quote:

    "It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt".

    Riaz Rasheed is a dimwit with a well below average IQ. He's not dangerous, which is just as well; otherwise he'd have to be kept in isolation to protect our society.

  6. Riyaz should know that I have ratified War Order #218A - This act authorizes any Maldivian to freely exercise his or her right to self-defense if they feel that their life is in danger. Police are a danger to all Maldivians, therefore, should be taught to stay indoors or else.


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