Religion and nationalism key themes on National Day

The government held an event inaugurated by Vice President Mohamed Jameel Ahmed at the Republican Square on Wednesday night to mark the Maldives’ 440th National Day.

The day is marked to celebrate the anniversary of the country’s independence from the Portugese invasion.

Members of the cabinet, foreign dignitaries, members of independent commissions as well as the security forces attended the event.

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom – who is currently in India on his first official trip abroad after assuming office in November 2013 – also gave a pre-recorded national address via the state broadcaster on the occasion.

In his address, the President stated no individual must be allowed the opportunity to take away the nation’s peace for political purposes or to gain personal benefit.

While it is important to view every citizen as a stakeholder in matters of the country, people should not be given the chance to challenge nationalism or conduct any activity that may threaten independence and sovereignty in the guise of freedom of expression or through differences in political opinions, Yameen continued.

“We must instill the spirit of nationalism in the younger generations who will inherit this country in future. The moral we must take away from National Day is for those in power and leading the country, citizens and all responsible leaders to raise national and community interest over personal interest as we work to overcome challenges. This is the example set by Mohamed Thakurufaanu [Maldivian ruler who saved the country from the Portuguese conqueres who ruled the country from 1558 to 1573]. This is the true meaning of his jihad in national interest back on that day,” Yameen stated.

“We must repeat the work our ancestors conducted in rain and shine. The reason we are to take breaths of independence today is due to the glorious jihad and sacrifices they made then for the sake of gaining independence. The country will not be able to take breaths of independence tomorrow unless we succeed in doing major work to overcome economic slavery and establish economic contentment,” he continued.

He pledged to fulfil his term serving all citizens equally and justly.

“I will make this government into one that is kind to its people, and loved by the people. I will bring swift changes as is desired by people and take the Maldives into a new era of development. My team and I will not be deterred in our work regardless of how rough the political seas we must cross become,” he concluded his address.

National Pride

“The spirit of nationalism can be maintained in its purest form only when social justice is established in the country,” Vice President Jameel said, speaking at Wednesday’s event.

The current government would work following the example set by Mohamed Thakurufaanu, Jameel said and called on citizens to protect the country’s independence and sovereignty.

“True nationalism can only be experienced with the improvement of living standards, and the country develops its health and education sectors,” he said.

“The nation must today be covetous of its national pride, of increasing self-sufficience, and should not let go of the national character. Today, if one has love for nationalism, one will not damage the country’s social fabric. One will not give away the country’s economic power into the hands of a foreign party. They will not sell off the national identity to a foreign group with no consideration towards national pride just for political gain. They will not let things go to the point where the country is stripped of the right to speak up about its own internal matters,” Jameel continued.

He appealed to the public to ensure that no one allows any other person to “damage the brotherly bonds between us in the name of establishing democracy, or in things that arise from differences in opinion, or any other cause”.

He then said that the day emphasizes the bridge between nationalism and islam in the country, adding that thus what must be given highest priority is the strengthening religious faith.

“Psychological war against religion, nationalism”

Home Minister Umar Naseer warned in his speech at the same event that there is an “ongoing psychological war aiming to lead astray our faith in Islam, and break up our ties of nationalism, a war that is escalating at a very fast speed”.

He stated that while this is a global danger, the Maldives is not far removed from being in its “line of fire”. Stating that the currently is already being affected by it, he appealed to all Maldivians to refrain from joining the “war” against the nation.

“For a Maldivian son to become a slave of this psychological war is like a cancer cell forming in the body of this nation. It is a huge danger,” he stated.

“It is important to become more independent in the country’s development work, and to give up depending on foreign labourers. There is no reason that the sons of fathers who scraped moss off the underside of fishing boats have to depend on a foreigner just to dust off their motorcycles,” the Home Minister said.

“Ours is a blessed land. It is a land that breeds heroes. Every time a foreign power has tried to meddle with our independence or our Islamic faith, Maldivian soil has brought out heroes that will cause the whole world to step back from,” Umar stated.

Irreligious acts are common today: Adhaalath Party

Religious conservative Adhaalath Party has also released a statement today, extending greetings on the occasion.

The statement spoke of the heroic events of Mohamed Thakurufaanu who had “slain the Portugese commander who had tried to force alcohol down the throats of pious Maldivians”, and then proceeded to compare heroes of the past with present day Maldives.

“The biggest difference is the mentality of Maldivians then and the mentality of Maldivians today. Then, when attempts were made to force alcohol down their throats, they resisted. Yet today, alcohol and narcotics is an epidemic which is alarmingly common among Maldivians,” it read.

“Then the Portuguese tried to force other religions unto Maldivians. Yet today, irreligious acts against Islamic norms are abundantly observed among Maldivians. This is not something the government can deal with by making it the mandate of a specific ministry, but a goal that all institutes must unite to reach.”


15 thoughts on “Religion and nationalism key themes on National Day”

  1. The leaders of a truly developed country does not have to resort to religion and nationalism.

    Resorting to religion all the time demonstrates a weak and uncertain religious situation.

    Resorting to nationalism all the time shows that the nation feels insecure because of real or imagined threats.

    I have just returned from a week-long trip to Portugal. Nobody in Portugal seems to know where Maldives is. Neither do the Portuguese remember or know that they had invaded the Maldives.

    I told the Portuguese what the Maldivians think of them.

    When I told them that the Portuguese tried to convert the Maldivians by force to Christianity they laughed. They told me that converting people to Christianity was one of their passions.

    Like all southern Europeans, the Portuguese appear to love drinking wine.But they do not drink to excess. They do not get drunk.

    It is improbable that the Portuguse went to the Maldives in the 16th century, even if they actually went, simply to introduce the alcohol drinking habit to the Maldives.

    Any suggestion that Christianity has anything whatsoever to do with alcohol is damn stupid.

    The tourist resorts that Maldivian authorities established and how they are run has done more for alcohol drinking encouragement than Portuguese could ever have done.

    Economic poverty, poor educational standards, lack of the basic freedoms of a democratic society, rule by a few families or even one family and hypocricy in religious observance are more of a threat to Islam in the Maldives than any foreign country.

    The enemy within is more dangerous than the enemy from outside.

    This is a case of the doctor being the real danger to the patient rather than the disease itself.

  2. If you claim to be a Muslim country, try to follow the true faith instead of the twisted version preached in the Maldives.

    No compulsion in Islam.

  3. Michael, you're right in a lot of what you said. Nationalism is in fact a very insular and insecure "retreat". If we look at history, nationalism has always been synonymous with dictators, war mongers and other associated despots. From Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Saddam, Gaddafi, Gemal Abdel-Nasser and so on, what these men had in common was this trait of nationalism.

    Loving one's country and being proud of it and serving it doesn't amount to this "Nationalism" that PPM and its allies are on about. For example, consider the United States: Americans are very proud of their country and millions of them have died for it, yet they do not consider "Nationalism" as a trait to be sold at every opportunity.

    And the same holds for religion. On the topic of the Portuguese, indeed there is no verifiable historical record whatsoever to suggest that the Portuguese ever conquered or even landed here. By all accounts, the most likely scenario appears to be a group of the many pirates in the Indian Ocean at the time might have landed here and that's about it. We can rest assured that if the Portuguese actually landed here and wanted to stay here, they would have! Look at Brazil and other former colonies for evidence.

    There is much to celebrate about our history and culture. But glorifying non-events do not turn fables into reality. They may be great opportunities for wannabe "nationalists" to thump their chests and that's about it.

  4. The condition of a nation is weighed with its leaders. These morons are laughable stuff, the Imaginary psychological warfare, what a bullshit? . The moron’s own insecurity is translated as an impending threat from some conspirators. The truth is that these idiots are scared to death of the new thought process within the Maldivian society who can do reasoning based on their own judgment unlike these brain dead morons still believe in superstition and myths, and these are the people who are fighting with an imaginary enemy within themselves and creating problems.
    The world has better things to do then converting people to their faiths and engage with psychological warfare with some poor fish folks. Those who can read, write comprehend foreign languages will read all the material that is floating in cyberspace and there will be curious people who will question about things that doesn't make sense to them. If I was foreign individual I would much prefer that these imbeciles remain ignorant harmless useless worshipers of medieval Gods. Why bother to convert them to something else risking creating some dangerous animal by manipulating their psyche.

  5. The biggest threat to Maldives is not from Christians, Jews, Buddhists or any other religious group. It is from run away out of control mass immigration of labourers! No one even knows how many of them are here and the flood gates are wide open. All this nationalism bulls**t will be smelly when the majority language in this country becomes Bengali! That day is perhaps only a few years away.

  6. @Michael Fahmy, being in Portugal for a week or having lived in Europe or Finland does not make one an authority on history, politics or religion or any other subject for that matter. If that is the case all who reside there will be experts in all fields! I am also of Maldivian origin and have lived most of my life - thirty plus years - outside the Maldives. I also have travelled to different countries and, for the last 20 or so years, have been living and working in the West. This does not make me an authority on any subject or grant me the right to belittle any people, culture or religion as many of your posts here seem continually to suggest.
    Re Portuguese and the Maldives, although there is a current trend among some to make the Portuguese-Maldives encounter look like a myth, recent studies seem to suggest to the contrary. (Details below) The Portuguese of today being ignorant of where or what the Maldives is, is no historical proof of whether in the past they had or did not have encounters with the Maldives. Spain and Portuguese were the earliest of European colonisers and even a cursory glance at the world today will attest to this: Almost all of the Americas (take away the US, Canada, and a couple of Anglo/Francophile small countries in South America and the Caribbean)have either Spanish or Portuguese as their main language and mainly Christianity, in one form or the other, as their religion (If you want more information on the connection between western colonialism and the spread of Christianity have a look at Edward Said’s, Orientalism and its sequel Culture and Imperialism. And by the way in some of these countries, you have to be a Christian by law to be their president. Do a little bit of research and you can easily find that! And more on this later!) Portugal and Spain also colonised parts of Africa, had encounters with India, Sri Lanka, the East Indies, and the Philippines. It was Spanish and Portuguese navigators who first circumnavigated the earth! (Even those who studied at Majeediyya in the sixties and the seventies would have heard of Ferdinand Magellan and Bartolomeu Dias!) And you are saying that it is highly improbable for the Portuguese to have been in the Maldives which lay on their travel route in the middle of the Indian Ocean between East Africa and the East Indies! What kind of logic is this? And, as I said earlier, recent historical studies seem clearly to indicate that most likely the Portuguese were in the Maldives. Have a look at 'Portuguese Encounters with Sri Lanka and the Maldives' edited by Chandra de Silva’s (Professor of History and the Dean of the College of Arts and Letters, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, USA (published in 2009 by Ashgate.) This work may provide some insight into the matter. The work is a translation of 16th - 17th century texts related to Portuguese encounter with Sri Lanka and the Maldives. The final chapter documents Portuguese relations with the Maldives.
    The Chapter on the Maldives contains the following:
    The Portuguese and the Maldives
    (a) Description of the Maldives, c. 1500
    (b) Description of the Maldives by Duarte Barbosa, 1518
    (c) Report on the Maldive Islands by João de Barros, mid-sixteenth century
    (d) Letter of Afonso de Albuquerque on the Maldives, April 1512
    (e) Letter of Afonso de Albuquerque on the Maldives, October 1512
    (f) Baba ’Abdullah’s Appeal to King Manuel, c. 1519
    (g) Letter of Hasan IX, King of the Maldive Islands, 1556
    (h) Excerpts from an Islamic History of the Maldives, early eighteenth century
    (i) Memorandum on the Maldive Islands, 1645
    The book received favourable reviews. The E-Journal of Portuguese history does not seem to regard the Portuguese encounter with the Maldives as a ‘myth’. Rather, it stated that “[the work] is a well-presented collection of historical texts”.
    The Bulletin of Spanish Studies observes that '... these selections could work not just as a case study of the workings of Portuguese expansion, but also of the ever-vexed issue of European colonialism's encounter with Asia, and even an introduction to the business of working with historical sources in general.'
    The Sixteenth Century Journal states, 'The clarity of the translations and the quality of the supporting apparatus make this volume a valuable contribution to the inquiry into the nature of the Portuguese seaborne empire, the history of the Indian Ocean, and the larger issue of cross-cultural encounters and interaction in the area.'
    By the way Duarte Barbosa (c. 1480-1521) was a Portuguese writer and Portuguese India officer between 1500 and 1516–17. His "Book of Duarte Barbosa" (Livro de Duarte Barbosa) is one of the earliest examples of Portuguese travel literature, written around 1516, shortly after the arrival in the Indian Ocean. In 1519 Duarte Barbosa accompanied his brother-in-law Ferdinand Magellan to circumnavigate the world. Barbosa died in 1521 in Cebu/Philippines.
    And Afonso de Albuquerque (1453 - 1515) was a Portuguese general, and a "great conqueror" a statesman, and a leading empire builder. Albuquerque advanced the three-fold Portuguese grand scheme of combating Islam, spreading Christianity and securing the trade of spices and the establishment of a vast Portuguese Asian empire. He was the first European to enter the Persian Gulf and led the first voyage by a European fleet into the Red Sea. His military and administrative achievements are generally regarded as among the most vital to building and securing the Portuguese empire in the Orient, the Middle East, and the spice routes of the Eastern Oceania.
    And João de Barros (1496 – 1570) is one of the first great Portuguese historians, most famous for his "Decades of Asia", a history of the Portuguese in India, Asia, and southeast Africa.

  7. @Michael Fahmy
    Now regarding your comment, “The leaders of a truly developed country [do] not have to resort to religion and nationalism”, you seem to have not benefitted much by having lived in Europe or Finland as far as knowing the connection between religion (Judeo-Christian) and Western civilization and even how, continuously many contemporary western leaders resort to religion to gain legitimacy. I do not want to go here into a discussion on the Judeo-Christian connection to Western civilisation. My point here is to argue against what you seem to suggest that in the West, the public and their leaders are indifferent to religion and your insinuation, that it is the ‘simple-minded’ leaders of ‘backward’ and ‘undeveloped’ countries who lack ‘sophistication’ and ‘brain-power’ to deal with issues that resort to religion. Remember, this is my point and, NOT to justify, condone or condemn the actions of leaders of Maldives or any other country.
    In the secular democratic west, religion does play a significant role in politics. 78% of Americans identify themselves as Christians. The Church and religious figures are involved in, and influence, American politics. 53 % of Americans indicated in 2007, that they would refuse to vote for an atheist president. In the last two American presidential elections, President Obama, due to his father being Muslim, had to tirelessly deny the claims that he was Muslim and reiterated that HE IS CHRISTIAN AND A CHURCH GOER OVER AND OVER AGAIN. I repeat OVER AND OVER AGAIN! And in addition, he had to prove he was American! He had to publicly show his birth certificate to prove he was born in the US! Just google and you will find out this easily!
    In 2011, the British Prime Minister David Cameron, in a speech marking the 400th anniversary of the Kings James Bible, declared that the UK, 72% of whose population identifies themselves as Christian, is a Christian country and its values are derived from the Bible and Britons should not be afraid to say so. In SECULAR UK there is no strict separation of church and state. Public officials may display religious symbols in the course of their PUBLIC duties.
    Israel, which regards itself as a modern western secular and democratic state, and often described as the only democracy in the Middle East, is a Jewish state; an identity that fuses ethnicity AND religion. Israeli laws, especially family law are halakha – the shari’ah of Judaism –, based. Halakha also pervades Israeli public life much. Just check Israeli political parties to see how influential and dominant the religious parties and religious leaders are in the Knesset and Israeli government. How could they have been elected to public office if the public were indifferent towards religion!
    And you who live in the West and say follow the news are implying that there is no connection between religion and politics in the West and leaders in the West are indifferent towards relgion! By the way do not forget that my point is not to condone or condemn the connection or any leader, Maldivian or otherwise!

  8. @Michael Fahmy, re your statement, "It is improbable ... even if they actually went, simply to introduce the alcohol drinking habit to the Maldives." I wholeheartedly agree with you on this. But, I remember many of the older generation of Maldivians, those who would now be in their 60's, did not take the statement, 'forcefully pouring alcohol down their throats' literally. For them, it meant that there was an intention on the part of the Portuguese to Christianise Maldives. This does not seem to be a far-fetched interpretation if you take into consideration the historical context of the Spanish-Portuguese colonial experiment. The Spaniards and the Portuguese went out to establish their colonial empire not long after the Reconquista, the defeat of Muslims in Spain in 1492 when Granada, the last Muslim outpost, fell. Following the Reconquista, the Spanish Inquisition began targeting non-Christians, that is, Muslims and Jews. They had to convert to Christianity or leave Spain. Some converted, at least outwardly and practised their faith in secret, while others left to North Africa and The Ottoman lands. Later, there were executions and expulsion on the basis of adherence or non-adherence to Christianity. You can see why the Portuguese had laughed when you talked to them about conversion! They haven't forgotten that part of their history! The Portuguese and Spanish colonial experiment began in such an atmosphere of religious zeal and missionary fervour. And as I mentioned earlier, their stated goals were 'combating Islam, spreading Christianity and securing the trade of spices and the establishment of a vast Portuguese Asian empire'. Therefore, it is quite likely, if they were in the Maldives, they would had wanted to Christianise it.
    I would also agree with you that the consumption of alcohol in the Maldives does not have anything to do with the Portuguese or Christianity. Tourism definitely contributed to that but even before tourism came to the Maldives in 1972, some, albeit a few, is said to have brewed their own in their homes and consumed alcohol.

  9. I have been to Portugal many times and I many people who knows Maldives and some of them are aware of our history too.

    Today Portugal is one of the poorest country in Europe where as the time you have takes about, they were one of the strongest country at that time in the world.

    People like you who will never see any wring done by Nasheed and how devil that man was.

    We are proud that we managed to get redo of Nasheed from politics and Nasheed will never be able to get the smell of our leadership ever.

    We do not want informant and traitor like Nasheed as our President .

    We need a leader who will protect this country and will take the country forward in terms of economic growth without selling country's assets for peanuts.

  10. @ mullah you seem to magnify maldives tolerance to other religions,when compared to how maldives treats other of another religion to how the west treats muslims ,come on banning of religious books of other,not allowing nonmuslims to worship freely in your country,and your rant of crimes commited on muslims,the muslims are no holy cow they too have been guilty of far worse crimes of wiping civilizations and cultres with extreme brutality and force, spare me the bullshit of your holier than thou attitudes,this inhuman behavior of your countrymen classifies you lot as supermacists bigots

  11. @mullah whatever you may try to project the Islands of Maldives if it was some significant place in the history of colonization during the 15th century until the end of that era in 20th century, your efforts are waste of time unfounded. The main aim of colonization in India and SriLanka was for plundering the resources such as spice, rubber, and tea it was never to convert natives to the religion of colonial powers. As Maldives lies in middle of Indian Ocean, it was obvious that these seafarers would have landed in these islands due to shipwrecks and would have encountered with Maldivians and may have had some trades with Maldivians such coir, shells and anything these Islanders would have traded with them. There is no historical evidence of big influence that happened in Maldives. No architecture, artifacts even you can’t find a single Cross from Portuguese. So keep your rubbish and there is no point to have shame of being small and insignificant, the reality is, Maldives was never a place for human habitation or migration. It was misfortunate that some unfortunate people escaped from annihilation or some criminal left to drift on high sea may have settled in these tiny islands. This is the fact and it is better to live with that fact. We know that lot of seafarer who stranded here in Maldives have committed suicide to escape from hash living in these remote Islands where you don’t get anything for survival of animals.

  12. Dear Mr Mullah The Mullah,

    Thank you for writing. You should have written earlier.

    You seem to be angry with me. Please don't be.

    I am one of the few people who write to Minivannews under his own name. That should say something.

    I think I know Maldives better than you.

    I am more than twice your age.

    I have extremely high levels of education for a Maldivian.

    I retired from an academic position as Senior Lecturer in English and History.

    I have a university degree in Political Science and another degree in Education also.

    I write as a teacher but my style is brief and informal too.

    I have had my writing published in more prestigious places than Minivannews also.

    If I have provoked you to think, I feel that I have done my job.

    I would strongly adise you to improve your writing skills.

    Try to be less emotional also.

    You are lucky to be in the West. That is where I am too.

    Thank you very much.

  13. @cabs
    “mullah you seem to magnify maldives tolerance to other religions’
    I did not say anything about Maldives tolerance or intolerance of other religions. How can, then, I magnify Maldives tolerance of other religions? It was never my intention to address the religious situation in the Maldives or compare it with others. The points I addressed were:
    1. Could the Portuguese in a particular time in history have occupied or been in the Maldives or not as Maldives history state? And being or living in a particular place, or whether some are aware of this today or not, is no evidence to prove or disprove this. The point is that one should rely on proper research to reach an informed decision.
    2. Whether in developed or secular countries, politics and religion are always kept separate and whether it is only in developing countries that people resort to religion or not.
    3. That there is no connection between the spread of alcohol in the Maldives and Christianity or the Portuguese.
    As I said, I am of Maldives origin but I do not live or intend to live there. I do not vote there and help to decide who rules and lay down their policies and, thus, I have no say in what happens or not happens there. I do not go there often and in the last twenty years or so, I spent no more than a few weeks there. So, I guess, it may not be correct to say that Maldives is ‘my’ country.
    And if I, with what you described as my ‘rant’ and my ‘holier than thou attitude’, have offended you or your country or your religion, I sincerely apologise. It was not my intention to do so.

  14. Mr. Fahmy, I think you right in your broadminded conclusions. It’s obvious as scholar suggests a group of pirates, possible Portuguese pirates landed and stayed there for some time. But that the Portuguese conquered Maldives is a myth in history. It makes the myth more interesting if it’s spaced with some stories of force and torture, religious force and alcohol.
    Notice someone not agreeing with your view, I can understand if you in your history books in school have been feed with this information you feel offended and like to stay narrow-minded and believe rather than feel you have been lied to.

  15. @Michael Fahmy, like the other posts, this is intended just for you!
    Peace and greetings, Michael! (I hope you do not mind me addressing you as Michael.) I do apologise if I sounded angry or emotional. What I do want to state is that, when addressing issues, or criticising, one must stick to the relevant points. One must argue their points clearly with evidence without ad hominem reasoning or getting personal! We can disagree and that for me is not a problem at all. I do not intend to impose my ideas on anyone and I never expect anyone to agree with what I say! Ideas are open for discussion, critique, and, if found unsound, rejection. Everyone has the right and ability to think for themselves! But I do hope we do not lose our civility even though we do not see eye to eye on things! Seniority, claims to qualifications and educational merit and authority, I am sure you will agree, do not constitute proof.
    Now let’s have a take a close look at what you have said just now to make myself clear. You have pointed out to me, your seniority: you said you are more than twice my age! (I am over 50! Michael, that makes you over a hundred! But, I think, that would be unlikely! Forgive me if I am wrong. May be you misunderstood me. I did not say I was 30 plus; I said I have lived 30+ years outside Maldives!) You claim to know Maldives better than me! May be you do! But even if you knew, just saying that would be a mere assertion! Demonstrate it with insight and analysis! You have listed your qualifications and some of your work experience! Again, the implication is you are better qualified to talk about issues! You may be! And you have asked me to improve my writing skills, which I do not mind! Again, the implication is, you are better qualified and write better, and therefore what you say is more valid! But, as a teacher, an academic, you know that, seniority, assertions, authority, self-glorification do not constitute evidence! Michael, my suggestion is, let our posts teach how to argue professionally, intellectually and with civility!
    I hope, I did not sound angry or emotional this time! Even with all my negative comments I addressed to you and which someone described as ‘rants’ and with a ‘holier-than-thou-attitude’-tone, you were very kind in your response to me and thus, you gave me the impression that we can have discussions in a civilized manner. Otherwise I would not have said this to you. For that, I applaud you and thank you! May peace and blessings be upon you!


Comments are closed.