Police interrogate, briefly detain DQP leaders over “slanderous” allegations

Police interrogated and briefly detained leaders of the minority opposition Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) Thursday night, after the President’s Office requested an investigation into “slanderous” statements alleging the government was working under the influence of “Jews” and “Christian priests” to weaken Islam in the Maldives.

DQP council members former Justice Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and ‘Sandhaanu’ Ahmed Ibrahim Didi were summoned for questioning at 8pm Thursday night. Former Attorney General and presidential candidate in 2008, Dr Hassan Saeed, accompanied the pair as their lead lawyer.

Speaking to press outside the police headquarters shortly after 10pm, Dr Jameel contended that the government was trying to silence dissent by arresting those who speak out against corruption and intimidation of the judiciary “with a serious warning of destroying democracy in the Maldives in its infancy”.

“By God’s will, we now have the certainty that will we will put this current President [Mohamed Nasheed] in jail for a long time,” he asserted.

Sandhaanu Didi was meanwhile taken to Dhoonidhoo detention island after midnight and released around 7:00pm on Friday night. DQP had filed a case at the Criminal Court at 3:45pm challenging the legality of the detention and seeking reasons for his arrest.

In July 2007, Didi was sentenced to life imprisonment by the former government for distributing the dissident Sandhaanu newspaper online and allegedly fomenting unrest and revolution. His role in the pro-democracy reform movement was recognised by Amnesty International and the US State Department.

Before entering the police station Thursday night, Didi insisted to reporters that his insinuation of the government’s anti-Islamic agenda was true, holding up a booklet titled ‘President Nasheed’s devious plot to destroy the Islamic faith of Maldivians.’

“We brought Nasheed to power by mistake. Nasheed is a madman,” he claimed, calling on the public to “rise up and defend Islam.”

Meanwhile a group of DQP supporters gathered outside the police headquarters to protest, during which DQP Deputy Leader Abdul Matheen was briefly detained for “disobeying a police order” and released after midnight.

“Suppression of free press”

The police involvement provoked a flurry of strong criticism from opposition parties, which have accused the government of resorting to dictatorial tactics, intimidating political opponents “out of desperation” and undermining freedom of expression.

Both the main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) – which formed a coalition with DQP last year – and the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) led by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom have condemned the government’s “suppression of the constitutional right to free expression.”

In a press statement issued today calling on the international community to intervene, PPM condemned the current administration for “harassment and intimidation” of privately-owned media outlets, arguing that such actions have “created an atmosphere of fear and repression in Male’.”

The ‘December 23 coalition’ of eight opposition parties that united to ‘Defend Islam’ also released a statement on Friday calling for the immediate release of the DQP senior member and condemning the “act of cowardice.”

“The December 23 coalition assures all citizens that we will not be deterred by the intimidation from the government but will continue on with renewed vigor in the face of such adversity for our religion and country to ensure that our rights are protected,” the statement read.

“Invalid offence”

A statement by DQP meanwhile explained that Didi was to be charged under section 125 of the penal code drafted in the 1960s, which states “Where a person makes a fabricated statement or repeats a statement whose basis cannot be proven, he shall be punished with house detention for a period between one to six months or fined between Rf25 and Rf200.”

Noting that the provision was “one of the most frequently invoked clauses by the 30-year rule of President Gayoom to suppress press freedom and dissenting views,” DQP argued that the liberal constitution adopted in 2008 and decriminalisation of defamation in 2009 rendered the offence of slander or lying “invalid.”

“Article 69 of the constitution prohibits application and interpretation of fundamental rights under the constitution restrictively,” the statement explained, adding that article 68 requires the interpretation of fundamental rights “in accordance with prevailing practices in democratic countries.”

Meanwhile, following his interrogation Dr Jameel tweeted: “Nasheed is relying on archaic laws to suppress opposition voices but he calls himself a democrat.”

The former Civil Aviation Minister under President Nasheed also alleged that police were continuing to “harass me and I am expecting to be taken illegally at any time.”

According to local media reports, Sandhaanu Didi has been summoned to the police headquarters again at 8.30pm tonight.

“Racist, bigoted and anti-Semitic”

Sandhaanu DidiAppearing on opposition-aligned private broadcaster DhiTV last week, Sandhaanu Didi had alleged that the government was “operating under the influence of Christian priests” and had been “attempting to spread irreligious practices and principles in the country.”

In response, the President’s Office issued a statement on Thursday condemning the remarks as “racist, bigoted and anti-Semitic.”

“The DQP is playing politics with religion. They are siding with religious extremists to wage a campaign that is racist, anti-Semitic and deeply unpleasant, in an effort to damage the government. I condemn the DQP, its leader Dr Hassan Saeed, and the council members involved for their disgraceful behaviour” Zuhair said at last week’s press conference, where he announced the government’s decision to ask police to investigate the pair along with DhiTV.

Zuhair added that opposition parties were “stooping to the politics of the gutter… out of political desperation”, pointing to a string of victories in recent by-elections for the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) “and the success of government policies, such as universal free health insurance, which was introduced on January 1.”

“The outburst by the DQP council members is the latest in a torrent of intolerant slurs made by opposition parties in recent weeks, in an apparently co-ordinated effort to undermine the government’s moderate Islamic stance,” the President’s Office statement reads.

On December 23, opposition parties and a coalition of NGOs organised a mass demonstration to ostensibly ‘Defend Islam’ and accuse the government of an hidden agenda for securalisation.

“Slander and bald-faced lies”

In his weekly radio address yesterday, President Nasheed insisted that the government “did not wish for the slightest disruption to freedom of expression” and would not react to criticism with police action.

“However, when deliberate slander is spread about the government to mislead the public – especially the false claim that the government is trying to introduce other religions in the Maldives – in my view, the government has a responsibility to clear its name and refute the allegations,” he explained, reiterating that neither the ruling party nor the government “would ever attempt to bring another religion into the country.”

He added that the government should take action against deliberate falsehoods spread to “create discord between the public and myself, my party or this administration and cloud their view of the government.”

Meanwhile at last week’s press conference, Press Secretary Zuhair noted that the former government carried out an investigation while Dr Hassan Saeed was in the cabinet into MDP’s sources of funding and foreign backers, which cleared the fledgling party of alleged ties to Christian missionaries.

After declaring “unconditional” support for candidate Nasheed ahead of the second round run-off of the October 2008 presidential election, Dr Hassan Saeed said at the closing rally of the campaign that the anti-Islamic allegations were “bald-faced lies.”

“The Maldivian government carried out efforts with funds from the Maldivian treasury, with money from the state budget and using experts from England to see if there was any connection between Mohamed Nasheed or MDP to Christianity,” he revealed.

“They carried out a thorough inquiry. That project looked into whether MDP received funds from foreign parties to spread Christianity. But what did the inquiry the Maldivian government carried out with Maldivian funds show? There is no connection between Mohamed Nasheed or MDP to Christianity.”

Dr Saeed’s running mate in 2008, former Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed explained in an interview with Minivan News in June 2011 that the previous administration hired UK security and private investigation firm Sion Resources in 2007 for a surveillance operation dubbed ‘Operation Druid.’

“The [Gayoom] government may have wanted to see what was going on. What these operations did was try to see who was who. And a lot of the operations the government felt were against it came from Salisbury, and I think the government of the day felt justified in engaging a firm to look into what was going on,” Dr Shaheed revealed.

“We’re talking about people who they had deported from the Maldives for proselytisation, people involved in all sort of activities. They felt they needed to check on that, and what came out was a clean bill of health. Nothing untoward was happening, and these people [MDP members working in exile] were by and large bona fide.”

The accusation from the Gayoom campaign that MDP and Salisbury Cathedral were conspiring to blow up the Islamic centre and build a church was “just a mischievous suggestion, a very mischievous suggestion,” Dr Shaheed said.

“Hassan Saeed and I – the last election rally we had, October 7 2008 or thereabouts, the last rally in our campaign against Gayoom, at the time everyone was accusing each other of being non-Muslim, and this accusation that the MDP was non-Muslim was getting very loud,” he continued. “So we came on stage and said we were former government ministers and that we were aware about this allegation against MDP and that Gayoom had hired a firm to look into this allegation, and that their report had confirmed there was no such connection to MDP. Both of us said this on record.”


26 thoughts on “Police interrogate, briefly detain DQP leaders over “slanderous” allegations”

  1. DQP trying to make an entrance thru whatever means. I pity them, however, more likely to fail than succeed.

  2. Shame on you Didi, you liar. And to think the MDP waged a campaign to free you ass from jail under Gayoom's regime.

  3. Any where else in the world and the DQP would be sued and put in jail for slander and lies.

  4. It is funny when people blame Anni as someone who is trying to bring irreligious things to the country. I think it is the same freedom of speech that they are so adamant to uphold is real culprit. Aren’t they hypocrites? When it comes for them to slander people with unsubstantiated allegation, freedom of expression is the savior, when it comes for people to express freedom of thoughts, the freedom should be constrained and those viewers should be locked. Whether you have Anni or any Mullah to rule the country, those who consider religion as crazy thing, will not change their view, the difference will be Mullahs will try to implement Sharia which no one, being Muslims can refute openly, this will deprive the rights of freedom of anything, and no one will be allowed to open their mouth. Everything will be as per the Sharia which has no room for questioning, and slowly the country will fall to Stone Age Thalibanistan. No one will be there to save banana republic from this catastrophe, because no country will be interested to interfere the internal business of unworthy country.

  5. Slander is a civil matter folks.

    It should be between two citizens. If Mohamed Nasheed as an individual feels that he has been slandered by the opposition then he should pursue the matter through a civil action filed in court. The police should not have a mandate to interrogate one individual on behalf of another in response to allegations of slander.

    This is how things are done in democracies worldwide and this is how it should be in theory as well. However the political divide that separates us from one another has defeated the purpose of civilized discourse.

    Its either yellow, magenta, blue or some other stripe of the rainbow that we look at the world through. A government will always face a disproportionate level of criticism due to the fact that it is the highest authority and the guardian of individual rights as well as the public interest.

    Democratic leaderships and administrations across the world have had worse allegations thrown against them than those faced by the current government. The mature way would be to handle such issues without recourse to military might or other strong-arm tactics.

  6. Current president with his half and full drunk cronies around him like Zuhair, Zaki, Sarangu Adam, Adil Saleem..etc are just the same bunch Gayoom had during his time, like Fatuhula Jameel, Zaki, Shahid etc. WHAT A SHAME ANNI IS MAKING SAME MISTAKE GAYOOM MADE!! Anni only listen to lunatics like Afeef, Sarangu! Anni mocks Islam! Anni wake up!!! WHY DID YOU SPEND ALL THOSE YEARS IN JAIL? FOR WHOSE RIGHTS? IS THIS THE DAY YOU WANTED TO SEE? WAKE UP!! PITY THAT YOU WANT ONLY MARIYA DIDI! YOU PROTECT REKKO WHEN VODKA WAS FOUND IN HIS CAR!! SHAME!!

  7. It is your duty as a Muslim to defend Islam!

    This duty is particularly important under the present circumstances, for the imperialists, the oppressive and treacherous rulers, the Jews, Christians, and materialists are all attempting to distort the truths of Islam and lead the Muslims astray. Our responsibilities of propagation and instruction are greater than ever before. We see today that the Jews (may God curse them) have meddled with the text of the Qur’an and have made certain changes in the Qur’ans they have printed in the occupied territories.

    It is our duty to prevent this treacherous interference with the text of Qur’an. We must protest and make the people aware that the Jews and their foreign backers are opposed to the very foundations of Islam and wish to establish Jewish domination throughout the world. Since they are a cunning and resourceful group of people, I fear that—God forbid!—they may one day achieve their goal, and that the apathy shown by some of us may allow a Jew to rule over us one day. May God never let us see such a day!

  8. It's getting really tiring to watch and hear these wrestling matches between various opposition factions and the Executive. No sooner had the 23rd December story died down, they start another match.

    There's a certain pattern to this. Someone from one of the opposition groups sends a volley of fire at the Executive. As soon as the Executive takes the bait, all the rest of the disparate groups of various political factions join in the rally and the fight is on. Both sides will test each other to their limits and at some point, one of them will blink and that'll be the end of it; until the next round!

    As I've said before, it seems that this particular accusation on the theme of "Christian Priests" have hit a particularly raw never in the Executive. I, along with most people do not believe the Executive has a leg to stand on as far as the Constitution is concerned. There is no provision of burden of proof on anyone accusing the Executive.

    Although Sandhaanu Didi or Lady Boy Jameel may not have any basis for their allegations, the Police has no right to intervene in this. This whole episode smacks of Dictator Gayyoom's time when he used rather inventive parts of our ancient Penal Code to detain anyone he didn't like.

  9. Former Amnesty International prisoner of concience Sandhaanu Ahmed Didi to summoned to police again tonight


  10. @Ahmed bin Addu bin Suvadheeb

    When the constitution says we have to be muslims to be Madlivians, and then a member of the public accuses the government of encouraging other religions in the country, it is no longer a civil matter.It is a constitutional matter. If Sandhaanu Didi has evidence, then why did he not give us that evidence on television? The government is with its rights to take them in for questioning.

  11. Signs of a dictatorship:
    1. Threatening anyone who says a word about the regime
    2. Silencing those who dare speak about the regime

    We have a dictatorship in the Maldives. Plain simple truth.

  12. This Hassan Saeed is failure. No one wants to support him. Many of his members have left them, because they see no hope to lead this country. If he can go and join Gayoom and support him, what a hypocrite is he going to be. Politics has no limits. Hassan Saaed will like Gayoom, if he promises him something.

  13. It is called sedition and is a criminal act against a lawful government.
    The Government has a right to investigate it and file a case in the courts.

    It seems to me that Gayoom was right in a way. Maldives is not ready for democracy. The people are too ignorant about democracy and are acting as thugs.

    The problem is that this government has been too lax. Thugs need thuggery and that is what is required to handle these kinds of people.
    If this was Gayoom's time none of them would be opening their mouths.

    It is the height of absurdity that anyone could think that Anni or anyone else could establish Christianity or any other religion in Maldives so long as the majority of Maldivians are against it.

    To be frank if anyone thinks so then he or she should be put in a mental asylum.

  14. I support the Government for their decision to take action. Everyone has to be responsible for what they say on public media, specially about others. Freedom of expression is limited to respecting the rights of the other. I do not watch local channels except the news as I find the politicians abusing each other, disgusting.

  15. And this is how Maldives will turn into a dictatorship.

    Freedom of speech and expression does not state anywhere that an accusation by someone cannot be anti-Government.

    The fact is that no matter where the speeches have been given and on what topic. The main point is that it is anti-government. Hence the rule of freedom of speech & expression stands against the Government here.

    Police should remember that this Government supports the UN Human Rights laws to the fullest. Hence, any arrests and interrogation should be seen as a violation of our human rights under the UN Charter.

    If someone claims to follow a certain charter of laws, than we should clearly remind them what it is. We as Muslims.. we stand by our religion and want only Islam as our religion in our country forever.

    We do not go around scaring people and making "false public claims" that the peaceful protestors are extremists, terrorists and now its anti-Semitic because we do not like the racists and oppressive nation of Israel which we should not even recognize.

    Trying to claim that we are racists against Jews is a silly claim. We are against any dictator and any government or person that kills innocent civilians using let me remind everyone American donated Apache Helicopters and heavy weapons. So Israel deserves every shoe that is thrown at its face. I would start buying shoes in bulk if I get to throw it at the face of the Israeli politicians.

    They are criminals and they should be in prison for life. So anyone who tries to make friends with Israel is in no way in my opinion following the religion of Islam. No worldly excuse can be given for the killing of innocent Muslims in Palestine. If you have no love for your brothers and sisters in Palestine, than go to a doctor and check your heart.

  16. meant to say

    Our Beloved Nabi (SAW) was sent to protest and make a loud noise for the spreading of forgiveness and Mercy. His protest was against the absence of charity and love, against the inequality which was forming in the Arabian Peninsula and all over the world. His whole life was an example of self sacrificial love. Not only did he spill his own blood struggling to liberate the severely oppressed, but he and his family spent the latter years of their lives near starving so that others could eat to their full. The Prophet loved to liberate slaves, and if they could not be liberated, he demanded that they be treated as Brothers and Sisters and not as slaves. He celebrated that Allah united the hearts of former enemies in a union of love, stating that if one Muslim suffers, all suffer, hence revealing the depth of love that Muslims are supposed to have for one another. He demanded social justice for orphans, for the poor. He elevated the dignity of the poor, the suffering and of the oppressed (the Masakin) by stating that it was they who were the most beloved of Allah and would enter Jannah first. The Prophet even said that the rich and powerful would only enter Jannah due to the supplication of the oppressed; such was the extent that he elevated their dignity.

    Scholars, politicians, business people, please stop stirring up hatred amongst your beautiful Brothers and Sisters in the name of Islam. Many of you, who claim to live to promote a more tolerant version of Islam, should really know better than to debase and degrade our beautiful religion by turning it into an ugly tool of hatred. Don't turn our beautiful religion into something ugly for political gain. I love and forgive you all, as I love all my Muslim Brothers and Sisters in Islam, but let’s all seek the Higher Way.

    Let’s seek to realize, Love, Compassion, Forgiveness, the true essence of our Majestic Religion.

  17. Muad is right.

    I do not support nor like a lot of people the government keeps arresting and detaining, however the truth of the matter is that political rhetoric often includes allegations of this and that aimed at each other. Arresting someone for criticism of the government is just dictatorial plain and simple.

    However as another commentator has said above, Maldives does need autocratic features to establish some semblance of order and stability. The problem is that what we have is an immature government with very little support among the people. Such a government would find it hard to keep the populace in line with their policies. Also the many upheavals that Nasheed personally desires to bring are not pragmatic choices. This is the reason for the instability. If Nasheed keeps on blaming the opposition for this and that his administration will be seen to be even weaker.

    Believe it or not, during both Nasir and Qayyoom's time they once held the majority support of a happy and contented populace. In Nasheeds case his political and policy failures coupled with the external economic shocks faced by the nation do not give him the authority and support to impose the autocracy that he wishes to.

  18. Hassan Saeed, Jameel and Thasmeen - a good combination to make a good DICTATORSHIP....If DRQ joins with the Notorious Gayyoom then that shall be not only a DICTATORSHIP but PHAROAH-SHIP like that of the ancient Egyptian had

  19. @tsk tsk
    why is it a civil matter when Anni responds. it should be a civil matter from the beginning i guess. if Sandaanu didi or jameela has anything against presidents religious belief/aqeeda they should express their concerns (if they have genuine ones) as individuals to Anni directly, not in media, public...

    the problem is you seem to refuse to apply the same standards to both parties. as far as i know its call hypocrisy.

    BTW is Jameel personally tweeting or someone is doing it for him?

    Agree with Ahmed bin Addu bin Suvadheeb to an extent.. arent we all really tired already with these fights..

  20. It seems that the freedom of expression in this country exhists only for the MDP members. Reeko has done allegations many times in media against opposition members and their policies but he was never summoned to police, not even when hundreds of alcohol bottles were found in his car. But when an opposition member says something about the government (controlled by MDP now), they are summoned to Police for questioning one by one. This is not freedom, but mere blatant dictatorship by Anni and MDP.

  21. Christian priests!

    Subhanallah! The Jews are invading! Take up arms! Sandhaanu Ahamaidhee will not lie for he is a pious Muslim Maldivian who is not afraid to speak the truth! Plus, there is no such thing as 'anti-Semitic' for that is Jewish propaganda used to justify the killing of 10 year old Palestinian children!

  22. Once again I am proven right...the Maldives is not ready for democracy. Most of the people cannot yet grasp the pillars upon which it rests. They are incapable of understanding that democracy means freedom for all, not merely for the majority, or for the loudest blowhards.

    When Mr. Sandhaanu Didi states that Article 68 of the Constitution, requires the interpretation of fundamental rights “in accordance with prevailing practices in democratic countries.”, he forgets that that also means that others are free to believe what they wish. He forgets that freedom of religion is part of the package, and that free speech is for everyone, even bloggers espousing secular ideas.

    If you ask me Mr. Didi , an "act of cowardice" is calling for women to be flogged, condemning the High Commissioner for her statements on flogging, and then calling on the international community to intervene to protect YOUR human rights.

    If you ask me, the pomposity of a people that believe that a religion that is thousands of years old needs the protection of a bunch of men who feel left out of their political system is the real tragedy here. And any attempt to use Islam as a ladder on which you slither to power renders you a vassal, subjujacted by your hate, and defined by your ignorance.

    The government must understand that attempts to clear their name, only dignifies this bigoted nonsense...it's time to treat these people with the dismissive attitude that buffoonery deserves.

  23. BTW @ Dhivehi Hanguraama...I of course think you're an idiot, but you have the right to think the moronic things you have written. Its' a free country...or is what you envision only free for you?

    Maybe if you spent time trying to resolve the issues of poverty, education, drug abuse, rape, and general lawlessness, you would strengthen the county's position to endure as an independent nation of laws and people capable of civilly thawarting the domination of foreign entities. Oh wait you prefer to mire in ignorance, fear, and hate....much more effective.

  24. @earthling:

    I think you failed to understand my point.

    Government's are criticized all across the world and some critics are often less responsible than others in making allegations and accusations.

    As I have said earlier, opposition critics have made accusations that U.S. President Barack Obama is a communist. These are serious allegations with definite ramifications for his re-election campaign. However hardline tactics and dictatorial measures will only serve to glorify those who make sensational statements.

    This is my humble opinion. Governments should not be regarded as private individuals. Criticism against governments are a natural thing due to their status in society. Qayyoom suffered under many claims against his government, some justified and some not. If we had allowed him to incarcerate his detractors we would never have been able to usher in this Constitution. Why should we allow Nasheed to become the dictator that we did not want Qayyoom to be? What makes him so special?

    I am not one to subscribe to messianic cults. We have no saviors. We must protect our own interests rather than align ourselves with party leaders.


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