Protests leave government and coalition awaiting next move

In the wake of the December 23 protests, coalition members who defended Islam and ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) members who called for a continuation of the nation’s moderate tradition await each others’ next move while attempting to articulate the differentiate between religious and political motives.

At an MDP rally held on Saturday night, party Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik claimed that he would not let President Mohamed Nasheed listen to the any of the demands without party approval.

“If you note down the demands and submit it to MDP, we will look into it and forward any demands we see worthwhile to send to the President,” Moosa noted.

He claimed that MDP is well aware of the Islamic history and government will not be forced into doing anything whenever a person says something or protest.

On Friday night, Moosa led an enervated crowd at Haruge in a protest against the demands and those calling for them.

The demands have not been formally presented to the government, President’s Office Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair confirmed. He added that Moosa’s demand for a party review was in keeping with standard protocol.

Meanwhile, Adhaalath Party chief spokesperson and former State Islamic Minister Sheik Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed hopes the President “will accept the people’s voices.”

Furthermore, religious coalition spokesperson Abdullah Mohamed said no deadline has been set for the government to meet the protestor’s demand, however the coalition will meet this week to discuss the government’s reaction and next steps.

“We will observe very closely how much the government is doing to meet our demands. We will try to peacefully resolve the issues by discussing with the government,” he said, warning of another mass protest should the talks fail.

Meanwhile, no party has said it will formally submit the demands as requested.

The coalition of opposition parties and religious groups made five key demands of the government at Friday’s protest: to formally condemn UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay for her comments on Shari’ah law; to deny El Al and other Israeli airlines service to the Maldives; to remove the SAARC monuments in Addu; to reverse the decision on declaring areas of inhabited islands uninhabited in order to permit alcohol sales; and to close Male’ brothels.

In a significant shift from the Maldives’ tradition of moderate Islam protestors also called for the full implementation of Shari’ah law, including hand cutting and stoning. These requests have not been officially endorsed by any party.

While all demands stem from Islamic principles, Zuhair believes they have been made “for political gain and recognition by political leaders, not by religious scholars and for religious purposes.”

“This is actually deceit on a grand scale. We are all Muslims, and as such share that part of our identity. But each and every political party can compete politically under separate identities.

“Then, the opposition takes a side and calls on all Muslims to come over. It’s political trickery, and the people will be aware of it.”

Zuhair suggested that financial advantage was also part of the mix, pointing out that the religious scholars who accused former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom of not being a Muslim during the 2008 Presidential campaign were the “same people now speaking on the same platform as the former president.”

He claimed that the end goal was political and financial profit.

“The sheiks have been brought to the public as a people who say one thing for political gain during one period, and then change during another. Everyone has an agenda. The mullahs are taking the businessmen for a ride, Gayoom is taking the mullahs for a ride, it’s a win-win situation,” Zuhair said.

The loss, Zuhair suggested, could come on the international platform.

“In today’s interconnected world, information is disseminated by foreigner partners and concerns are raised beyond the government’s reach,” he said.

Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem noted that few foreign reporters were sent to cover the protest due to its collision with the holiday season, but that foreign media outlets had picked up the event. “All governments are concerned,” he said. “I don’t believe this was good publicity for the country.”

However, the peaceful execution of both protests had reassured many, he concluded.

Minivan News asked DRP leader and MP Ahmed Thasmeen whether the protest was religious or political.

“It was organised by religious and civil society groups for issues concerning them, it was not a political event,” he said. He added that the protest would have no bearing on the 2013 presidential election, but said that the demands made must be discussed by political parties.

The purpose of the protest, according to Thasmeen, was to point out that the government’s habit of pursuing policies which “undermine religion” have created a “growing fear among the Maldivian people.”

Minivan News asked whether a distinction could be made between religion and politics. “The protest was organised by a variety of groups,” he responded, “and has achieved its goal of showing that the Maldivian people are deeply concerned.”

Minivan News inquired of Thasmeen, a resort owner, whether the demand to recall the resolution over selling alcohol on uninhabited islands would damage the tourism industry.

If approved, Thasmeen said the demand “would only impact tourism in a few locations. We are requesting that the government stop using technical loop holes to sell alcohol on these islands.”

Meanwhile, MDP party members spoke out against Thasmeen and Gassim at an impromptu party rally late Friday evening, calling for their arrest as well as the execution of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Thasmeen today accused the government of labeling the protest as “radical–which is not a label that fits in with the people who attended.”

Officials agree on one thing: the December 23 protests brought significant issues to the table, which both sides will be hard-pressed to ignore.


21 thoughts on “Protests leave government and coalition awaiting next move”

  1. It is a joke if Reeko Moosa thinks that Maldivian people can demand anything from the Government through MDP only. For the Maldivian people there is no difference between MDP, DRP, PPM, etc.The Maldivian people changed the previous government because the government did not listen to the people, it is the same thing with this government; even if this government does not listen to the Maldivian people we will change the government, who is Reeko Moosa/MDP to dictate terms to the Maldivian People

  2. Deceit and trickery on a grand scale...As if they have a monopoly over Islam to speak in the name of the people...MDP members are also Muslims..and many MDP members mistakenly thought that this thing was sincere. A strange thing was, all the women in that rally joined congregation prayers held on-scene, which meant that by God's grace none of them were menstruating...What a miracle...

  3. If the muslim system is strong enough in its truth and relevance in todays society, it will surely survive and flourish regardless of whether it is legislated or not.

    But one thing we know for sure...legislation will encourage intolerance and injustice to all nonmuslims. Is this Islam?

  4. Spin, spin, spin Eleanor and Zuhair.

    Spin like a top,
    Spin like a wheel,
    Spin from the top,
    Spin from the heel,

    Eleanor feeds,
    Zuhair barfs,
    Eleanor writes,
    Zuhair looks smart.

  5. "Officials agree on one thing: the December 23 protests brought significant issues to the table, which both sides will be hard-pressed to ignore. "

    ah iiii hardly think so. monuments, pillay comment is not significant issues .

  6. Well, "Bodu Muzaa hiraa" is over instead of basking in the success of a peaceful demonstration, its time for both protectors of Islam and Moderate Islam to give us citizens some answers.

    Moderates tell us voters are you going to remove all the monuments if so which once, are you going to apologies and kick or kiss the Israelis etc..

    We saw the following political parties out there to protect Islam, Addaalath Party, Gaumee Party, Jumhooree Party, DRP and PPM, Now its time to let us citizens of this country know exactly what are the Islamic punishment you are going to carry out if and when you get to power, in the process of protecting Islam, please tell us voters before the next election. are you going to carry out whats in the Quran (which is a must I believe and prove the crime accordingly too.) or are you going to include punishments in Hadhees and Sunna, if so what punishments from sunna and what punishments from Hadhees and tell us how authentic and genuine these hadhee and sunna are too.

    and those Islamic sects who didn't take part, can you please let us know why you are not there to protect Islam.

    and as for the former president what are you going to do to us if you get elected again are you going to use gillet foam or chillie sauce to shave our beards or are you going to chop our hands, will you implement stoning or is it as in quran, eye for an eye, life for a life and so on.

    Please let us know your views before the election. we need to make up our minds up before the voting day and depending on who is elected would like to take our parents, children and vanish from this Maldives to a truly free country where I can practice Islam and live like a true Muslim in the middle of all the booze and massage parlors and what not and where Israelis live too and still follow the true religion of Allah without any compulsion.

  7. This protest was the largest in the maldivian history. So the government would be stupid and politically immature if they ignore their demands. After all government needs votes to win any election.

  8. Old man Gayoom's bared the Sheikhs nude. He would be laughing watching TV.. in breakfast and maybe dine out on the thing for days...

  9. How the Dam Burst:

    Is Moosa Manik the second-most powerful man in the Maldives?

  10. Juha, you cant say anything against Reeko, if you say a single word, you go home empty hand...OK?

  11. Thasmeen very good you are saying that only you're resort island should allow selling alcohol. So that you gonna earn enough money to spend your political campaign. wow, what great 100% islam you're calling for.

  12. Its like this... You get an island to build a resort. You are going there with a team of workers. You have masons, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, welders and many such people. And you complete the resort in a year or so with the help of these hard working people. And now its time for you to employ professionals to manage and operate the resort. The people who are there from day one, demanded that they be offered jobs. And what you did was promote head mason to general manager's post and the carpenter to housekeeper's post and then the plumber to F & B manager's post and rest of the team also to various posts of the resort.

    When guests started to arrive and when problems started, no one had a clue where the solution is and what can be done as they do not have even basic knowledge or skill to do their assigned job.

    So if you want to run properly employ the most suitable person to that post. There are highly educated or experienced locals.

  13. Absolute lie. No one in the rally called for the implementation of Sharia. It was not the purpose of the protest.

    Despite government's constant move to twist the real purpose of the protest and instill fear in public, a huge crowd gathered and protested peacefully, the first of its kind ever in Maldives.

    By instilling fear in people, propagating wrong information and utter lies about the event, Reeko Moos's call for the murder of Sheikhs (live on public media) and calling to gather to create violence in a peaceful gathering, and giving a completely wrong picture to the international media, it is very obvious to us who the real terrorists are.

    Alhamdhu Lillah! All your dirty tactics failed. Live with it.

  14. So funny! So one side will wait for government reaction, and the other will wait for formal submission of demands. Will both keep waiting indefinitely???

  15. Finally things are clearing up. "Protect Islam" is a total lie, is that what some of us are saying now.

    How are you going to protect Islam without Sharia?

    Yes, Dhahjaalu, this lot should stop basking in the sun and start giving us Maldivians some answers.

    We truly don't want to live with this Jihadhees who thinks easy way to salvation and heaven is through suicide bombing.

    So finally we are made aware that the demonstration is not about "protecting Ialam" and its all a lie and these fact are coming from there own mouths.

    Can all those Political parties who attended, let us citizens know, are they going to stop importing pork if they come to power, are they going to stop importing alcohol into the country.

  16. All those tourists who visit Maldives must now avoid the Resorts owned by MP, Gasim Ibrahim, MP, Thasmeen Ali.

  17. finally they have managed to attack the one good thing we have. tourism. thanks MDP. you just made dug a hole for you in history. immature politicians

  18. If tourism is affected means only livelihood left for most Maldivians is fishing.
    Hey guys stand up and works towards a peaceful solution to your problems.
    Though i am a Sri Lankan, & had worked in your Country for Quite some time and i pray it dont end up in a mess.


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