Pillay controversy a missed opportunity to demonstrate nobility of Sharia: President

The Maldives missed an opportunity to demonstrate “the nobility of Islamic Sharia” to the world by reacting in “a Jihadi spirit” to controversial statements made by visiting UN human rights chief last month, President Mohamed Nasheed said at a rally Friday night.

A call for a moratorium and public debate on flogging as a punishment for fornication by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in an address to parliament on November 24 was unequivocally condemned by the Islamic Ministry, religious groups and political parties as an unconstitutional challenge to a Quranic precept.

“That the punishments and rulings of Islamic Sharia are not inhumane is very clear to us,” Nasheed said. “We have the opportunity to show the whole world how noble and civilised Sharia is. That is because we are the only Islamic nation with a democratically-elected government.”

“Wasting that opportunity in a Jihadi spirit” with the claim of “defending Islam” was unacceptable, Nasheed told supporters at the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) rally at Dharubaaruge, which saw the launching of a ‘Plus One’ campaign to double party membership ahead of the 2013 presidential election.

“Opposition parties will always attack us by using religion as a weapon,” he said. “[But] believe that this country is the only Islamic nation where Islamic Sharia has been practiced uninterrupted for 700 years.”

Islamic chief justices and principles of Sharia law had “a sacred place” in the Maldives’ long history, Nasheed observed, which “will not be shaken.”

“Maldivians are not a people who will allow the slightest harm to Islam,” he said. “We know how civilised the religion of Islam is.”

MDP understood that Islam “brought the world out of jahiliyya [ignorance] onto the path of civilisation,” he continued, adding that the party was committed to protecting the culture and traditions of the country.

In the past three years, he noted, the government spent Rf1.2 billion on “the protection of Islamic faith” (page 200 of the MDP manifesto), including the construction of 40 new mosques across the country.

Nasheed said he had been writing about the decay of the Gemmiskiy in Fuvahmulah, an ancient coral stone mosque, since 1990.

Meanwhile in a press conference on Thursday, seven opposition parties announced it would be joining the coalition of NGOs for a nationwide mass protest planned for December 23 “to protect Islam” against the MDP government’s alleged “anti-Islamic agenda.”

Speaking at the Friday night rally, MDP Vice-President and MP for Feydhoo, Alhan Fahmy, strongly criticised opposition parties and religious groups for objecting to the Pakistani SAARC monument, which contained pagan symbols of the Indus Valley civilisation and a bust of the country’s founder Mohamed Ali Jinah topped by the Islamic crescent symbol.

“The time when people worshiped idols, when people worshiped people and the public worshiped rulers in this country is over and done with,” he said.

Alhan accused religious groups and scholars of the Adhaalath Party for employing “religion as a shield” for political purposes.

“Instead of bringing people from Egypt for Ramadan revival programmes, we gave the opportunity for Maldivian scholars to speak and deliver sermons,” he said, in contrast to the former regime “jailing them and shaving their beards with chili sauce.”

Alhan also argued that accusing senior officials of the MDP government as well as the party’s members of kufr (disbelief) went against Islamic principles in a Muslim society.

He urged the Adhaalath Party to cease “sowing discord” with accusations against fellow Muslims and suggested the religious conservative party “talk about something else if you want to come to power.”

President Nasheed meanwhile suggested that “the people today are too aware and enlightened” to believe the charges laid against the government.

“We know what the people of the Maldives want. We don’t have to watch TV stations to find it out,” he said, referring to the opposition-aligned privately-owned broadcasters DhiTV and VTV.

Nasheed observed that the MDP received 53 percent of the total votes cast in the by-elections for vacant council seats in Alif Alif Himandhoo, Faafu Bilehdhoo and Gnaviyani Fuvahmulah on November 19.

“In 2013, I have not the slightest doubt in my mind that we will take 60 percent of the vote in the first round,” he asserted, claiming that there was “no other party in the country yet” that could meaningfully compete with the MDP.


19 thoughts on “Pillay controversy a missed opportunity to demonstrate nobility of Sharia: President”

  1. “[But] believe that this country is the only Islamic nation where Islamic Sharia has been practiced uninterrupted for 700 years.”

    That's a total lie! The Maldives has never practiced Islamic Sharia. Never ever! The Maldives practices selected pieces of the Sharia as it fits their own ideology.

    Nasheed was right about one thing, though. The opposition will always use religion as their ultimate political weapon. This is not a surprise, since this is a very easy weapon to use and deploy with deadly effect and none other than Gayyoom used it throughout his 30 year rule.

    There's a good reason why many countries separated the State from religion. As long as religion is not kept at arms length from the State, the so-called "scholars" will use this simplistic weapon to attack the brains of the masses.

  2. I live in Finland.There is every possible evil and crime in the world happening everyday in Finland. These bad things are increasing day by day. They are faithfully reported in the media everyday.

    Police and then the judiciary act on them. The churches and mosques and synagogues are not involved in them.

    Parliament passes laws and other relevant state organs act on them.

    Religious affairs are separated from state affairs. In that way, religion is not politicised, and politics not religionised.

    There is only one political party whose manifesto is based on Christian religion. This party has only one per cent popular support. This in a country where nearly 70 cent subscribe to church or other religious membership.

    In this respect, Finland is a good model for Maldives. I hope Minivannews readers look at this matter and learn from countries like Finland.

    Finland came second, this year, in Transparency International rankings.

  3. Brilliant Mr President.

    You will get my vote next time. And if you get rid of Mr Corrupt Caterpillar man, I will ensure that all of my friends vote you too.

  4. I beg to differ Ahmed. How much success have most of these countries achieved at separating State from religion.

    I might be jumping the gun but I assume you mean the EU/US/UK nations. Each and every one of those countries are plagued with rising "conservatism". Religious banners and slogans have always played a part in their politics since the announcement of the so-called grand separation. Separation in name but not in fact is merely writings on the water.

    What do we turn to if we disregard religion altogether? What normative ideal is accepted by the majority to replace it? What unifies us as a nation? Our shared history? LOL. Our common goals for development? ROFL. It is the only thing that remains. Whether that is right or wrong is another matter altogether. We are tearing ourselves apart and in the meantime a lot of the literati justify the end of unity as a necessary step towards democracy. At what cost Ahmed? At what cost?

  5. a few points:

    1. "jihadhi spirit".. this phrase is coined so as to impart the meaning that somehow jihad has nothing to do with islam! But this is not so. Jihad is very much a big part of islam.

    2. Ms Pilley being the kaafir she is, she only said what she think is right. IT doesn't have to be right to everyone. As for the NGO's and islamic ministry calling for her arrest, well this is total fabrication by (sad to say) Minivan news. What minivan wants is recognition, not neccessarily to impart truthful news. So everyone has an agenda here. Ms Pilley said what she is required to say, the ngo's voiced their anger, the political parties took advantage of the situation, minivan scored a few more points...

    So no big deal here actually.

  6. now he manages to say something against all the haahoo going on. and that too at a party gathering. nop, this doesnt count as standing up and defending what Ms. Pillay said. This was an act of cowardice. and did Mr. President forget about his own cabinet Ministers condemning Ms. Pillay's talk. It wasnt just the opposition or the crazy mullahs n opposition. It was your own people. your ministers and your MPs in parliament. Bravo indeed.

  7. Thank you, it's about time the Government started openly criticizing Adhaalath and the opposition for the ridiculous stance they are taking. I fully support the President and the ruling party for their stance and chastise any party that supports demonstrations on this issue when they are only advocating ignorance and the power of Imams, Sheiks, and other clergy over all sectors of society.

  8. President Nasheed's government is perceived as secular and it is fine. The fact remains that there will be a battle between the clergy and government policies for a foreseeable future. It may produce some dangerous consequences as experienced in other parts of world. outrageous as it may be, the Maldives needs a secular government free from religious interference. For the best interest of the country, constitution should be amended to accommodate necessary provisions for a truly secular state.

  9. Fairly frail condemnation, though about as strong as what it could be without destroying his chance of winning the Presidency.

    Your President ended his ability to promote the cause of liberty once he accepted that he would try and become the President. One cannot be a Maldivian President and promote liberty due to the fact that to promote liberty you have to go against the wishes of the masses, but to be a President, you have to keep them happy if you wish to remain as such.

    The history of Anni the activist will allways inspire me, but President Nasheed is a rather wishy washy fellow who really bores me to tears.

    Since 2008, Hilath is the hero for the liberals, he, Simon Shareef, Yaamyn, Maldives resistance, a guy called Shadow Runner, the commenters on this blog, just to name a few, a whole heap of them are leading the cause of liberty, but it is not Anni.

  10. Secularism is the best policy for the state as religion is a private affair of the individual. However, if someone openly commits such sins as fornication the courts may be called upon to take action. It's not a police matter. It'll be treated as a civil case. Interference by the state with anything beyond will be inappropriate as it cannot be enforced fairly among the people.

    If action is taken against not fasting in the month of Ramadan, why is no action taken against persons for omission of prayers; for not paying alms; for not going on pilgrimage in spite of having enough money? For these and other matters that you can tell us, religion should be left to the individual as long as he does not break or offend it publicly.

  11. We like pillay's call on debating to adopt a constitution that does not leave any room to punish, humiliate for acts that society’s belief and tradition regards sins for generations or subjugate people to believe what some group or individual thinks absolute rightness. Flogging people for having sex out of wedlock, and humiliating women for giving birth to children out of wedlock is inhuman acts and we believe it has to be stopped immediately. Laws must be made to protect and to give dignity to those children who were born out of wedlock who are no different than any other human being except the belief and tradition of the society that discriminate such unfortunate children. With scientific evidence such children’s paternity should be established and should be given same family status as anyone else.

  12. Hillat, and Simon sharif, are not fighting for liberty, they are fighting for a secific cause, for separation of state and religion, gay rights and religious freedom, which is fine really, but ultimately, if the majority of maldivians want to maintain their Islamic identity, and vote on it, what then? The reality is that I don't think maldivians, an overwhelming majority, that is are willing to separate state and religion yet,

  13. Agree with marie,
    none of the wind bags mentioned above has done anything to advance the cause of liberty or englightenment in our society. all they did was to write hateful rants against islam which is the majority religion of the country. if ranting agains islam is the criteria for fighting liberty then that's a very narrow minded way to do that.

    By contrast Anni (before he became president) was also a writer and a thinker and he managed to make a place for him in this society without offending the simple beautiful ppl living here.

  14. @Marie,
    one could not help, but wonder is it really that Maldivians do not want to separate religion and state?, OR they do not have a clue about the concept of a secular state? AND that the majority you are referring to is more like a herd a of sheeps led by big business tycoons/Politician/Religious figures of this country (all the same, in for the same who does not care abt the good-hearted hard working citizens of this beautiful nation)?
    Just a question that comes to mind while reading your comment.
    You may be right! BUT i think there is some truth to above.

  15. What ever Allah and his messenger say, we have to accept it.

    Sad but true, we never had perfect Sharia in the Maldives. Its the solution for everything!

    Fighting in the cause of Allah you will get the highest rank in the Paradise. Don't make a fun out of Jihad.

    Everybody will die and we will soon be resurrected. Be prepared, hell awaits.


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