Pro-government MPs hit out at UN’s “biased” and “political” calls for religious freedom

MPs of several government-aligned parties have expressed concern over a UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) report calling for freedom of religion, sexual orientation and several other commitments in the Maldives, claiming the document is “biased” and “against the will of the people”.

Jumhoree Party (JP) MP Abdulla Jabir told Minivan News today that he had “reservations” about the UN’s conclusions, claiming they appeared to single out former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s government for alleged human rights abuses, while also contravening the constitution and laws of the Maldives.

Progressive Party of Maldives MP Ahmed Mahlouf  also hit out at the report’s conclusions, which he claimed were both “political” and “biased” as a result of the influence of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), according to local media.

UNHRC calls

The UNHRC findings urged Maldivian authorities to guarantee citizens’ right to democracy, permit freedom of religion, reform the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), abolish flogging and the death penalty, and deal with human trafficking, among other recommendations.

A core concern of the committee involved the Maldives’ reservation to Article 18, concerning freedom of religion, the validity of which was questioned by the committee on the basis that it was “not specific, and does not make clear what obligations of human rights compliance the State party has or has not undertaken.”

However, Jabir today contended that the stipulation within the Maldives constitution that the nation was 100 percent Islamic reflected the views of the Maldivian people, with not a single political party in the country having called for religious freedom.

“It is the Maldivian people who have decided that if you are not a Muslim, you are not a Maldivian. There is not one party here calling for this to change,” he said. “Maybe this is not what is practiced in many other countries around the world, but it is what he have decided here by law. It is our sovereign right.”

Aside from calls for freedom of religion, Jabir also said he was concerned about the issue of establishing an independent inquiry into “all human rights violations, including torture” that were allegedly conducted prior to the 2008 election.

He claimed this appeared to single out the 30 year autocratic rule of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom,  who was voted from office during the 2008 presidential elections.

“We have had other presidents in this country before Mr Gayoom and I do not understand why they are not also being focused on. Why only Gayoom’s time? This shows there is bias in this report,” he said. “Before President Gayoom, we had President [Ibrahim] Nasir. It should look at all abuses from the country’s first president onwards.”

Constitutional matter

Jabir added that he had personally been one of the 12 member body who had drawn up the present constitution, that had in turn been approved by the Maldivian people.  He claimed that despite the UN calling for freedom of religion and sexual orientation – as well as other commitments designed to address concerns about human trafficking and judicial reform – the organisation was unable to overrule the laws and regulations of a sovereign nation.

“When the UN asks for freedom of religion, this is what former President Nasheed has been trying to promote in the country,” he claimed.

Jabir’s concerns about alleged political bias serving to influence the UNHRC’s conclusion were also raised by the PPM, a party formed last year by former President Gayoom.

PPM MP Mahlouf reportedly told the Sun Online news service yesterday that items raised in the UN report seen to contradict Islam would not be implemented in the Maldives.

He claimed that the findings had been influenced by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and “foreign associates” linked to the party.

“MDP encourages the destruction of our sovereignty and our religious values,” Mahlouf was quoted as telling Sun Online.

Mahlouf reportedly pledged that the PPM would work to stand against allowing any changes relating to the national religion under Maldivian law as a report on how the Maldives will implement the Committee’s recommendations is due to be delivered to the UN during the next twelve months.

Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, leader of the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayythithunge Party (DRP) was not responding to calls today about the report.  Both DRP Deputy Leader Ibrahim Shareef and MP Dr Abdullah Mausoom could also not be reached at the time of press.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed, who has alleged that he was forced to resign from office on February 7 this year in a “coup detat”, had denied advocating for freedom of religion during his time in office. The former president has faced strong criticism from political opponents over his commitments to protecting the nation’s Islamic faith.

However, during a gathering of former opposition political figures, NGOs and other civil society organisations on December 23 last year to “defend Islam”, Nasheed held a counter-rally for those he claimed practised a “tolerant form” of the faith that he contended been traditionally followed in the Maldives.

“We can’t achieve development by going backwards to the Stone Age or being ignorant,” he said back in December, 2011.

The President also called on leaders of political parties to explain their stance on religious issues to the public ahead of a scheduled 2013 presidential election.

“Should we ban music? Should we circumcise girls? Should we allow 9 year-olds to be married; is art and drawing forbidden? Should we be allowed to have concubines? We have to ask is this nation building? Because we won’t allow these things, we are being accused of moving away from religion,” he said at the time.

Nasheed also urged MPs at the time to discuss the inclusion of Sharia punishments in a revised penal code “without calling each other unbelievers.”

The December 23 coalition also raised concerns over calls by United Nations Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay during a visit to the Maldives last year that flogging be abolished as a punishment for extra-marital sex in the country.

Pillay’s comments further fuelled tensions across the nation late last year over concerns about the erection of monuments in Addu Atoll to commemorate the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit that were deemed as “idolatrous” by some.

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65 thoughts on “Pro-government MPs hit out at UN’s “biased” and “political” calls for religious freedom”

  1. @ Ahmed bin Addu bin Suvadheeb

    Its not just '100 pct' that are constructs. All theories are constructs. But it doesn't mean that E=MC2 is true. Its not without its flaws and certainly not accurate.Nonetheless is not useless.

    100 pct Muslim country is a part of the national myth and an essential part of nationhood. It may not be NUMERICALLY accurate but it represents much more than a number. It represents pride of being a small Muslim country.

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  2. So blind to question science! Study science like I do to question science! Science can answer a lot of questions religion cant. Have a look on rainbow definition on those old books. Will prove it is primitive! Only from how they explained rainbows! LOL

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  3. Soon this will be a news that you will see in Maldives!

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2181534/Couple-stoned-death-adultery-Mali-approved-punishment.html

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  4. @tybiau sir

    You seem to have misunderstood what the term 'freedom of religion' means. If its granted, nobody will try to take away Islam from you. And as such, you wouldn't have a right to take away someone else's religion away from them either, because it is their right to believe or not believe in whatever they want. How are you not understanding this simple fact? Have you been to Malaysia, a top Maldivian destination? There are people of three major religions their living side by side everyday. Same thing in your most hated western countries. Even the most hateful of muslims live in the Uk and believe freely in whatever they want there.

    You live in such a deluded world buddy.

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  5. To be or not to be a Muslim? Is that the question? Or is it …. To be or not to be a 100% Muslim Country?

    It seems to me that already many Maldivians have answered the first question and hence the second question has already been answered in the negative.

    30 - 50 years ago Maldives was a different place in a different era. There is no evidence to the contrary -that everyone was a Muslim, in the Maldives. Probably nobody questioned ones faith, the question, the choice never presented itself. The closest mass interactions with the outside world were our immediate neighbors and their religions did not attract any Maldivian and so pose any problems. There is no evidence. (Except a king perhaps who apostatized, and went into exile???) As far as religion was concerned we were homogenous and we reaped the benefits of being practicing Muslims.

    Interestingly we learnt our Islam from our parents, especially on the knees of our mothers first, and then from our aunts, uncles, our neighbors and at the mosque and almost all the islands had a person who was more “learned” than the rest who could be relied upon to “enlighten “people - their queries about life from a religious perspective.

    As a consequence everybody without exception took Islam as the bedrock of their existence and their culture and moeurs revolved around Islam such that there was love and respect for their Creator and His Prophet –Pboh.

    Incredibly Maldivians lived and breathed Islam in a manner quiet unique to Maldives - to the best of their capabilities.

    Given this background it’s not rocket science that Maldivians when they thought of a constitution thought that all Maldivians should be Muslims simply because all were Muslims. To think of a person renouncing Islam, apostatizing was anathema and not remotely possible because immediately he or she would be ostracized, disowned first and foremost by his/her own mother and father and then his/her brothers and sisters, neighbors and islanders.

    I dare say that this whole question, in the Maldivian context of that era is only academic. Nobody had any reason to leave his/her religion. Maldives was homogenous and there were no religions (I see atheism as a religion too) present to lure anyone away from Islam.

    Every single person held their religion and beliefs as something manifestly good and the people who commanded the greatest respect amongst the people, in society were those people who were the most knowledgeable and most pious.

    Given this background the education most sought after was religious education and little wonder most parts of Maldives had a religious scholar who with their living example and piety won the love and respect of the people. A result was the average Maldivian growing to Love Allah and His Messenger.

    People had very little in every respect but that little they had - for the great majority was enough to share with those who had even less. One person’s sorrow was everybody’s sorrow and one’s happiness was everybody’s happiness. Everybody knew each other, to know each other’s welfare was considered a duty.

    Crime for the most part did not go beyond the odd theft and that too extremely rare and a person considered his/her reputation non-negotiable. Little wonder then reputation and property was considered quasi sacred. Violence and society as we see it today was unheard of.

    One had time to visit, listen, laugh and cry eat and drink with his/her neighbor. Mother was teacher and absolutely ALL in the house and commanded absolute respect of children and father was unrivalled chief at home, and their life mission was to see their young ones grow up to be good Muslims - Obeying Allah and His Messenger, working for the Good of here and the hereafter and doing good and trying to prevent evil. This implied looking into the welfare of his/her family, neighbors, friends, travellers and those less fortunate than self. Life was simple and uncomplicated.

    This then WAS the nature of things. These memories seem to be still very much a part of some people. Many people. Dare I say a majority of people? They are resisting the idea of “defiling” this land with idol worship and the inevitable consequences.

    Consequences?

    Already Maldivians are reaping the fruits of producing sons and daughters who know so little about Islam – i.e. .. Apostates, drug problems, alcohol abuse, theft, violence, murder. Sadly also leaders who are products of Apostasy, drugs, alcohol, violence & murder.

    WHY? WHAT? HOW? WHEN?

    I won’t bore you with the details here. No time, No space. Sometime, somewhere else perhaps.

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  6. the plight of our nation reflects well when its people like Jabir to speak on behalf of this nation or even have a say in national matters. i normally do not pass on judgemental calls, and this is based on photographic evidence available on the internet that Jabir is the same guy who was drinking beer and having extra marrital affairs, both of which goes against the religion he is so eager to defend.
    the hypocracy of all this, oh the humanity, is this. when the politicians say "its the will of the people" they have no idea, so out of touch with the people. there is no survey done, no available statistics on this ghostly assumption that maldivians wants their constitution to restrict the freedom to chose to islam or other religions if one finds others interesting.

    by one glance at our society, its values and day to day business, you know it does not reflect anything close to an islamic society. i think if you do not force upon people, they'd have a better understanding and perhaps appreciation of this great religion and its values.
    there are many among maldivian muslims who would want their fellow citizens to have that right to practice whatever the religion they want, as long as it does not harm someone else or does not obstruct national progress/human progress.

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  7. also minivan, it was the human rights committee, not commission. and unhcr are the refugee people. some tiny fact checking, editing ANYTHING please for the love of god people.

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  8. @earthling
    wow, you are a humble person and not like LOL; whose main aim is to defame Islam like Nasheed.

    This is the problem with religious freedom in Maldives; the sole purpose of these atheists and apostates is to mock and belittle Islam when they do not know the basic principles of it.
    in other countries i do not see this level of mockery out of a religion but the population are more tolerant towards one another and basic respect is there!( although the tolerance came with much time)

    When some people hate something so much and then goes in public, announcing this, imagine the reaction from the rest of the bunch who also know little about the religion( and apparently who has the image on the ongoing torture of Muslims in Myanmaar, palastine, irag, Afghanistan, Syria(BTW have you seen the biased decision taken by the UN not to intrude into Syria still, definitely something going on between Asadh and America???)

    thus introducing religious freedom at this point could lead to more chaotic situation in the country (by that i don't mean we do not have problems right now, we will add fuel to the fire!)

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  9. and LOL,
    i can also show you why Islam hates adultary!

    Study: Men having extramarital sex more likely to have a heart attack

    Read more: http://www.abc2news.com/dpp/news/health/study-men-having-extramarital-sex-more-likely-to-have-a-heart-attack/#ixzz22OGTTWIa

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  10. The Impact of Extramarital Affairs on Family Members

    Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/79235-impact-extramarital-affairs-family-members/#ixzz22OJ6Ux3k

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  11. @Jasmine- Maldivians for Islam:

    What you say is beautiful, you are speaking of Muwwahid, Unity, which is an expression of Islamic Mercy. Indeed the Community (Ummah) should be warm and Merciful as you described, like a Mother. The word Ummah (Community) comes from Um which literally means Mother - this the beautiful way the Arabic of Qur'an describes what a community is meant to feel like, Merciful, secure, like a Loving Mother.

    Mercy can only be created THROUGH Mercy, forcing Islam on those who are not Muslims will only provoke resistance, social disharmony, hatred, deceit.

    If islam is not forced by law the Muslims will have to struggle to win overs other through this Mercy, it will elevate the morality of those doing Da'wa, as they will have to win others over through inspiration and love rather than through force. Futhermore, it will make Islam look more beautiful, as you described it so Majestically, and people will once again be attracted to it.

    I MAY be very wrong I am just stating an idea. Perhaps in Maldives it is better to restrict liberty, perhaps our Western ideals are compatible with our Western society As it was hundreds of years ago and would not work in Maldives as perhaps liberty would be used for bad, I don't know really, YOU Maldivians have to do what is best for you, us Westerners really will ruin your country and your soul if you let us make your decisions.

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  12. For me Love, (Mahabbah)and Mercy (Rahman) for humanity, is what is sacred, not a persons LABEL. AT the end of the day, even IF you guys decided that it would be better for the integrity of Islam, for the society to elevate Islam through acts of Sadaqah rather than through force, it would have to be something you do because you feel it is genuinely best for Maldives based on an honest understanding of your own society. Indeed, in the West, Religious freedom was fought for in Europe and US by those who wanted to elevate morality, not abandon it, BUT your current social-cultural situation MAY be different. It is just, what I offer, ideas

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  13. AT the end, what I hate, is to see a few Maldivian ppl who are otherwise kind ppl living in FEAR because of who and what they are, THAT is what I HATE, is to see humans living in fear!

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  14. what wrong with ordinary maldivians pasting islam on your forehead isn't going to solve your problems,common stop acting like imbeciles,the major problem around the world is to earn enough money provide shelter and food for one family and give one children decent education-live drink and shit ones religion isn't going to provide this

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