Protests proceed peacefully as a majority defends Islam

Two much-anticipated protests, one to defend Islam in the Maldives and another to exhibit support for a “moderate Islam” drew crowds of thousands along Male’s eastern coast this afternoon, and thousands more on islands across the country.

Contrary to  speculation, no violent outbreaks or confrontations took place on a grand scale. However, three individuals were injured during a protest against the government’s religious policies in Haa Dhaal atoll Vaikaradhoo. They have been taken to the island’s health clinic, Haveeru reports.

Meanwhile, police and national defence forces (MNDF) are maintaining close operations on Male’.

“There is no violence, so the police are continuing to survey the situation but they will not interrupt the ongoing demonstrations unless there is a confrontation,” said Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam.

A coalition of NGOs and six political parties began organising a protest “to defend Islam” several weeks ago. Ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) coordinated a counter-protest after threatening messages were posted on the coalition’s promotional website. Over the past week government, religious and security officials attempted to negotiate the situation, with rumors of members of the Taliban joining the protest raising concerns over public order.

Both protests began at 4 pm today. MDP’s protest concluded at 5:30, however the “Defend Islam” protest leaders have announced they will remain in action so long as the public demands it.

Defend Islam

Banners bearing slogans including “We stand united for Islam and the nation”, “No idols in this holy land”, “No to the Zionist Murderers”, “No to El Al Airlines” and “We stand for peace” lead participants to gender segregated areas across from the Tsunami Memorial area, where approximately 20 protest leaders spoke from a mounted podium.

Speakers from various religious and political opposition parties addressed an estimated 5,000 men, women and children of varying ages and attire. Protestors were handed t-shirts and banners reading “Maldivians in defense of Islam” along with Maldivian flags.

“We don’t know there is a moderate, higher or lower Islam. We only know Islam, which is above all the religion. The only road we must follow is based of Allah’s callings,” said Jumhoree Party Leader  and tourism tycoon Gasim Ibrahim.

Gasim urged the people gathered to continue the rally peacefully, assuring his party will “stand with the people to protect Islam”.

Former State Islamic Minister and current spokesperson for Adhaalath party Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed said the party does not support terrorism, adding that the security forces would know the actual people provoking terrorism.

He also vowed to defeat President Nasheed in 2013 elections.

The crowd raised cries of “Allahakbar” between speeches, and Shaheem led an oath to defend Islam in the Maldives.

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader and MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali said that he was there on behalf of DRP to assure Maldivian citizens that the party will stand with the religion of Islam.

”We are gathered here to uphold Islam for the future of the next generations,” Thasmeen said, accusing the current government of trying to establish anti-Islamic policies.

Increased diplomatic relations with Israel, including possible service of El Al airlines, and recent debates over Shariah law were among examples given.

”We are here to show that will not support those policies yet we are not extremist,” he said. ”We will stay forever as an Islamic nation.”

El Al Airlines was expected to begin service to the Maldives on December 13, but has been postponed indefinitely. The National Security Committee is currently reviewing the situation.

Half-brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Abdulla Yamin argued that President Nasheed would have stood in the front line of this gathering if he wanted to uphold Islam.

”Today they are asking whether churches could be built and idols could be kept,” Yamin said. ”And, the police do not have to defend the idols.”

Yamin accused the government of trying to abolish Arabic and Islamic studies from the country.

”The current government does not care about Arabic and Islamic Studies and has in fact disrespected Arabic and Islamic studies,” he said, reiterating that this nation will forever be an Islamic nation.

Several speakers called on the government to condemn United Nations Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay for her suggestion that flogging be abolished as a punishment for extra-marital sex. Pillay’s comments fueled gathering tensions over the SAARC monuments erected in Addu and the agreement with El Al Airlines, which culminated in today’s protest.

At 6 pm protestors flocked to the sea and were given water bottles for ablutions before a group prayer on site.

MDP for Moderate Islam

Meanwhile at the MDP rally held at Artificial Beach, President Mohamed Nasheed said the government will continue to practice a tolerant form of Islam, reminding listeners that Islam in the Maldives has traditionally been tolerant.

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

The President also called on leaders of political parties to explain their stance on religious issues to the public ahead of the 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.

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

“At this moment we may not realise how important this gathering is, but years down the line we will look back and realise this was a crucial moment,” he said.

“I asked you to come here in support of the middle, tolerant path. And I believe that most citizens want to continue our traditional form of Islam,” the President said.

President’s Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair told Minivan News today that “the opposition said 100,000 would attend their rally, but less than 5,000 showed up.”

“This is because their rallying call was based on a lie – that Islam is under threat in the Maldives,” he said. “It also proves most Maldivians want toleration and not the introduction of extreme punishments such as stoning, amputation and genital mutilation of girls.”

Public Responses

“The government today is breaching the Islamic values everyday. It is already too late to protest. But we need to stop President Nasheed from speaking against Islam. That’s why I am here,” said one 35 year old woman protesting at the Tsunami Memorial.

“I am not at the MDP rally because they are calling for moderate Islam. We don’t want that. We want 100 percent, full Islam in Maldives,” said another participant.

“Islam calls for flogging, stoning and hand amputation. But President Nasheed speaks against these Islamic penalties openly. That means he’s not following Islam. He wants music, he wants adultery and alcoholism to takeover us,” a woman alleged.

Minivan News asked why the people are not protesting outside the parliament or the judiciary, to change laws which currently exempt those Islamic penalties.

The women argued that these bodies are not the ones allowing Israeli flights to land in Maldives, or which approved the monuments in Addu, which they claim are religious idols.

“It is the government that is responsible for these things. Besides we are not allowed to protest outside the parliament and courts. So we are raising our concerns here.”

One observer of the MDP rally clarified that, “This protest is not related to Islam in any way, they are just doing it because they like to protest.”

Other onlookers were more circumspect.

A man who attended the MDP rally said he was happy that there was no violence. “This is how the protests should be. People have now expressed what they want. Let the public decide.”

“I am here to defend Islam. Not to take any sides. The government is doing things that are conflicting with the Islamic values we have been following,” claimed a man wearing a t-shirt reading “one religion”.

According to him, allowing Israeli flights to land in Maldives, closing down Arabiya (Islamic) School and keeping monuments in Addu is all part of the government’s conspiracy to eradicate Islam from the Maldives.

“I am just here to watch what is happening because it is my country,” a man said.

Ahmed Naish, Ahmed Nazeer, Hawwa Lubna and Eleanor Johnstone contributed to this article.


72 thoughts on “Protests proceed peacefully as a majority defends Islam”

  1. to attn of Mr Well Done on Sat, 24th Dec 2011 1:10 AM,

    What you are saying is that is UK is destroying itself by folowing cristianity, isreal is destroying it self by being jewish and vectican city is already done for. you are talking noncence my friend

    gues we can decide from your comments that you are the one being hypocritical not us, try and control your padres and church poweres and let us be, your internal mental conflict is very aperant in the coments and is best left unshared with us.

  2. this is all nonsense. first off, anni has not failed. look around you, you fools! the very act of protesting was a right secured to you by his gonvernment. If this was seven years ago, you would all be in jail rotting to your last breath. moderate islam IS what maldives has ALWAYS had. it is YOU who are trying to "change" religion here.

    secondly, the purpose of this whole thing was rather obvious. those demands were all political. where were the mullahs when all the children were raped? what brothels? where are the quran centers? why did you not demand for better education? why did you not demand the government look harder for fornicators and adulterers? I'll tell you why. because they are hypocrites.. the whole lot of them… this imran raped his own sister in law. I will die before I believe a word from any of these harlots.

  3. The opposition Political Parties only have Religion?Pathetic!

    To the Religious NGOs, this country needs to practice Islam not decent it. It is tough to find a decent Quran teacher who is reliable. The criminals roaming the streets need help, spiritually!

  4. sorry but

    No to underage marriage (6 or 9 or 12)

    No to stoning people to death

    No to banning music

    No to banning art

    No decapitating or amputation

    No to smashing rocks (muslims VS nature)

    No to billy goats

    and no to all the politicians who talked about booze when they have private bars at home.


    and now Maldivians are clear on the fact that moderate muslims are not muslims according to real muslims. so wake up!!!

  5. and the funniest thing about the protest is, they are using democracy to go against democracy.

    democracy is what gives them the right to protest and take public votes. but they are all gathered to bring it down, how ironic.

    they love to do this. they use the very freedom provided for them to fight against it, this is the stupidity that we fail to notice.

  6. Anni, I implore you to exercise harshest islamic punishments, may be just for a few months, to those convicted of crimes. Then the public would really see first hand, what happens when one is stoned to death, and/or beheaded. Most will throw up and cry to stop!

    Or better, let's show some real video footage from Iran and afghan.

  7. @hijabi
    a true muslim believes that the sustanance comes only from Allah, however the government and most of its supporters are afraid that the european coutries might issue trave adversory because of this protest and tourists might not come here but they are not afraid that Allah might send a punishment upon us for all the faahish things happening in this country-- think man we might die even this moment

  8. I guess Buruma gasim thinks he won the 2013 Presidential election today. He financed this massive demonstration. The government is going to do the something, defend Islam and bring these crooks to justice.

  9. The majority isn't defending Islam. This protest isn't about protecting Islam. Its got nothing to do with Islam. Its about winning the next election. Come the election the whatever party that supported the religion the most, will win, is the maxim of the day. The dumb, simple minded and good hearted people follow these crazies because they think what they are saying is remotely true. No, not even that but because of the slogans they use..."PROTECT ISLAM" (wtf) surely they will gather to that.
    But I digress, the ones who are at neither of the protests are the true majority. They are the ones who don't give a monkeys buttocks about what the politicians are saying, but will come around when the feces hit the fan. Unfortunately it will be too late.
    Religions are a thing of the past. I say. But no one listens.
    Now the more important questions are at hand.
    Like: "What will Mahdi (ge faanu) will use to direct his disciples, Facebook, Google+ or Twitter?"

  10. Adhaalath Party will win the next election by a 90% land slide, and I know this because of the numbers which attended yesterday. This is just a preview. We will make Shaheem our next president, and enforce Islamic Shariah to the full extent in 2013. People shall be flogged, their limbs amputated, and fornicating women stoned. All windows will be tinted to prevent unrelated men from seeing women inside their homes. It will be obligatory for women to wear the niqab (not the jewish thing dhivehi women wear and call hijab), and music, art, dancing and all these Jewish activities will be banned.

    By the grace of Allah SWT, we will accomplish what the Taliban failed to implement in their country, and lead our brethren to paradise.

  11. What was there to defend when nobody was attacking? what we saw on display of cheap politics representative of 3rd world countries.

    what was unusual the wowing of oath read out by sheikh shaheem. He read out the owed and the crowd followed him without having a slightest idea as to what they were taking an oath for.

    Agitated as he was Hassan Saeed could not recall the Arabic words while attempting to glorify Islam and had to be helped by other Mullahs behind.

    Unless a referendum is held, there is no way anybody can tell what majority's position is on a given issue.

    Claiming that they achieved 100,000 target is deceitful if the figured is not proved by detailed statistics. It is certainly against Islam to lie and mislead.

  12. Mr. President let me suggest you some advise.

    MDP needs to integrate an islamic marketing campaign into your strategic marketing strategy if we are to win this battle , thus Mr Baree just became your new best friend.a few resources ought to be dumped into islamic portofolio , and then the plan should liquify into marketing activities such as having adult qua ran classes , courses for hajj performers, such activities should also be aimed to strengthen the status quo of the nation on Islamic frontier .. the public should be hit with this information 24/7 for the next 1 year or so , from channels such as TV , Radio , telephone , internet . The grass rout needs to deliver the message by word of mouth.

    Point Number 2 - You also need to attack the opposition on this ground as well , aim for their weakness , attack on these carefully selected areas.and there seem to be a lot .

    we will win . inshaa allah

  13. I will never let these bearded wahabis take over this country and turn it into the dark ages, thasmeen and Gasim, surely u can do better than team up with these idiots for political reason, all your resorts will be gone if they get power, they will slaughter you once they deal with anni,

  14. MDP should more women for Haj. Government should revive the old Haj of tax payers account and send prominent islanders through council nominations.

  15. Minivan news ge project fail vi dho.mi gamuge dharin adhi thibee heyla ey. Ahanah Verikan libey dhuvahakun kaley menn ge mi site block aruvaalaanan hurey.kaley me nah heehavee dho thithaa ingireysinge eheegaa konme kameh kurevidhaane ye.bala emeehunna kah ves mi rajjeyge rayyithun naa dhe kolha kah nukureveyne evves kameh...huvafenun theduvey...enooni huvafenun nutheduvi ovvaa nethi nimidhaane.

  16. @tsk tsk

    Well said, I couldnt have articulated my thoughts as well as you did.

  17. @ A Samad on Fri, 23rd Dec 2011 11:56 PM - well said...

    It's great to hear that all the problems in Maldives will be saved by a 100% Islamic state. What a great solution! Here is what could be an alternative 10 step action plan...

    1. The government would just need to stop the tourism, which president allowed it in the first place?! Of course, true Muslim tourists would be welcome... I guess that's easy to screen at the airport...

    2. The government can stop the introduction of tourism taxes. No tourists, no taxes right? And if not tourism flow of cash, who can afford taxes anyway so stop all taxes. Full stop. Everyone can pay for everything by themselves: medicals, medicine, schooling, dental care etc.

    3. The government would need no foreign workers and no expats in the country... That way there would be no impact from any other person or religion outside... Plus there would be so many jobs available for all the Maldivians! Most of them pay like USD 100 per month, but better than nothing right?

    4. Ask all the resort owners and Maldivian expats to move back to Maldives and give the money they have made in the last 30 years back to the people. You cannot allow Maldivians live, work and study abroad anyway, they will get influenced by other religions. Actually, just withdraw all passports for immidate stop. Exit from the country can only be approved by the president or the Islamic Centre in Male.

    5. Also ask all the house owners to live in their own houses and give the one's they are renting out to the people who currently have nowhere to live. Who needs a 10-story house when you live only in 01 appartment? Of course, unless you have 4 wifes, cause then you can keep 4 stories for family peace. That's giving to the community true Zakat style!

    6. Stop educating students in Dhivehi and English or any other language. Arabic is the true Islamic language, shouldn't the country be all Arabic speaking anyway by now? And since no-one can leave the country as they might get influenced, you would not need any other language anyway. They speak Arabic in Saudi for the pilgrimage, which by the way is mandatory... Money will be no issue anyway with all those construction jobs available in Male'.

    7. Whilst the government are at it, forbid all TV channels and only broadcast recitations of the Holy Book on TV and radio.. Also cut the satellite connections for internet and that big cable over to Sri Lanka... no internet, no influence. Oh, and close all book stores and stop free speach. Only publications from the Islamic Centre is allowed.

    8. Ban mobile phones, iPads and laptops... that would put about 100 stores out of business in Male' alone... no worries, they can take the jobs all expats and Bangali labour are currently doing..

    9. Focus on People's Majlis... who all earn way too much money anyway... just give them like all the resort workers, about USD 200-400 per month + service charge if they have actually done their job... and not been on strike... or holiday... or protesting in the streets like the common man... That could be their Zakat... and if they don't pray 5 times per day, deduct from the salary...

    10. If all else fails, be prepared to build an ark or emigrate to that piece of land that the government has bought somewhere for the Maldivian people. Let's just hope it's somewhere in a Muslim country.

    For those who don't get irony/sacrasm, start whining..

    Maldives is a fantastic country and I miss it dearly... For the normal people, good luck for the future - I really mean it.

  18. Sheikh Imran Abdullah on Sat, 24th Dec 2011 11:08 PM - I guess your tongue will be amputated for telling lies.

  19. @ my dear infidel friends.
    Please lets stop insulting Islam for a few days. I think we have done enough damage for our cause which is to establish an atheist kleptocracy in this country asap. But we are going too fast. the silly Muslim population is slowly realizing our plot and they are discerning our designs. So lets put a brake to our plans for a few weeks dho? What do you think? I think we shall give Anni some time to catch up on all these politcal fallouts from our failed medhumin muzaahiraa.


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