“Stigmatisation of persons based on religion pressing human rights concern”: Ambassador Adam

Maldives Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Iruthisham Adam, has welcomed the council’s resolution to tackle Islamophobia under the framework provided by UN Resolution 16/18.

“Islamophobia and other forms of intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatisation of persons based on religion or belief is one of the most pressing human rights concerns of our time,” said Ambassador Adam.

“The problem is not new but has reached new heights in our globalised world where ideas and information, whether good or bad, moves from one country to the next, and one individual to the next, with startling ease. This, together with the fall-out from 9/11 and the War and Terror, have led to a situation where Muslims around the world face daily intolerance and discrimination,” Ambassador Adam said.

The resolution was jointly proposed by the Maldives during the 16th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

“It provides a comprehensive framework for action including awareness-raising and education, legislative steps and administrative measures,” Iruthisham said. “Most importantly, it was adopted by consensus. Only by working together, by taking action individually and collectively, can states hope to build a world where people of all faiths and religions live side-by-side in an atmosphere of mutual tolerance, understanding and good-will.”

“This last point – the importance of all States working individually as well as collectively – is, we think, key. In the context of tackling Islamophobia, this means that the Maldives does expect countries, especially in the West, which are faced with problems stemming from societal intolerance and vilification of Muslim minorities, to take real and robust action in line with Resolution 16/18. But it also means that we in the Maldives, and in the wider Islamic world, must be willing to also take steps to promote a better understanding of our religion and what it stands for, and to promote dialogue with people of other faiths.”

Ambassador Adam claimed all states had a responsibility to take action against those who promoted violence in the name of religion, and said that it was important to defeat such people “in the battle of ideas.”

“For example, in the Maldives, we are working, in our new democracy, to counter act the false perception that people must make the false choice between devotion to Islam on the one hand, and the full enjoyment of human rights on the other,” she said.

“None of this is easy, for the simple reason that the Maldives does not exist in a vacuum. Rather, we are buffeted by global winds. This is why, in response to the numerous [Universal Periodic Review] recommendations we received on matters of religious tolerance, the Maldives recently announced its intention to organise, during 2012, a major international conference on progressive Sharia jurisprudence and human rights. With this conference we hope to revive the concepts of peace and tolerance, co-existence and inter-faith harmony that exist in Islam.”

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17 thoughts on ““Stigmatisation of persons based on religion pressing human rights concern”: Ambassador Adam”

  1. "With this conference we hope to revive the concepts of peace and tolerance, co-existence and inter-faith harmony that exist in Islam"

    The dawn Chriastianity and Budhism back in the Maldives...after 800 years of only Islam..we are now seeing the beginings of a new renaissaince...The vast majority of Maldivians dont want another religion here...This is a democracy the majority demands that maldivies stay an almost 100% muslim country..its our democratic right.

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  2. The Islamophobia has a taken a huge turn in west after 9/11. The west's war again so called terror is also one sign of this. Unfortunately the muslim countries are not doing enough to tackle the problem. I appreciate the maldivian governments efforts in tackling with islamophobia, but its sad to know rich muslim countries mainly the arabs have always been quiet on the issue. They are those who created all the problems of 9/11 and alqaeda, but on the other hand maintain good relations with the islamophobic west, mainly US. They are not botthered about the effects we the rest of the muslims are facing because of their allies, the west's islamophobic attitudes.

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  3. It would have been nice had Madam Ambassador spared a few thoughts for how we stigmatize others as 'kaafaru.' Interestingly, when confronted with this issue, the typical response of the average Maldivian would be, "well they ARE kaafaru, so they deserve to be called kaafaru."

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  4. "we hope to revive the concepts of peace and tolerance, co-existence and inter-faith harmony that exist in Islam"

    ...but not in the Maldives.

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  5. I believe it would be better if we refer to the website of Foreign Ministry for a better understanding of this news.
    Minivan, you don't have anything better than this, do you?

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  6. as long as there are basic freedoms and no protection of essential human rights in the Maldives (no freedom of religion, a total absence of human rights for gays & lesbians, etc.) the words of Ambassador Adam are empty and meaningless.
    If one wants to claim rights, one better starts by giving those rights to others, and then expect the same blessing.

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  7. "peace and tolerance"

    I just wish we stop beating about the bush. Peace has never been the forte of Islam. ever.

    And tolerance? Who are kidding? Maldives, is the finest example of total intolerance on earth.

    The only solace here is that there is something to talk about at coffee tables, a semblance of interest, for however a short time it is, in a place where entertainment is below zero. Like in politics here.

    Just shows how stupid and helpless we are. We were descendants of pirates, travellers. Like in the West Indies. Why do we want to behave like ignorant desert dwelling Bedouins?

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  8. @ Ali Bassam,

    U R right. Thanx to Jamiyyathul Salaf and IFM, we Maldivians are becoming intolerant. To be a so-called "good" Muslim we have to be 'íntolerant' and follow extremist ideology. For this reason, Islam could not be reformed. This is our bane and our curse - and we have to live and die with it.

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  9. In Immanuel Kant’s Perpetual Peace, Kant asserts that a nation only deserves its sovereignty if it respects its people’s liberties. These liberties include, among others, full freedom of religion.

    In the Maldives, it had been argued that if freedom of religion were allowed, the Maldivian people would lose the spirit which preserves their nation’s sovereignty.

    Islam has been presented to Maldivians as not only the source of their liberation from Jahannum (hellfire) but also, as the source of their liberation from an evil, virgin killing demon called ‘Rannamari’ and as the source of their liberation from foreign tyranny.

    A large part of Maldivian national identity is constructed around the Maldivian people’s shared history of oppression and suffering, inflicted by Portuguese invaders. During the conflict, Islam was the salvation of not only the soul of the Maldivian, but also, of the physical life of the Maldivian. To abandon the Jihad (struggle) for the salvation of the Maldives from Portuguese oppression by leaving Islam, was to make the decision to allow one’s own family to be killed rather than to fight for them and save them. Leaving Islam was viewed as the equivalent of murdering your own family. This was what had been taught to Maldivians for many years.

    This semiotic glue of Islamic Muwwahid (Unity), this perpetually fuelled Islam dependant spirit of solidarity ‘Azhabbiya,’ is still believed by most Maldivian people to be necessary for the salvation of the Maldivian people’s freedom even now. This is so much the case that many Maldivians express that the mere thought of another Maldivian leaving Islam causes tremendous trauma and stress for most other Maldivians.

    With this in mind, it would seem utterly cruel to the Maldives, an utter violation of Maldivian human rights to try and push for Kant’s Universalist view of human rights in the Maldives.

    On the other hand, there are a growing number of Maldivians who are expressing a desire to be something other than Islamic. Their experience is also one of tremendous suffering, fear of confessing to anybody what is in their hearts; they live a lie in public. Inability to trust, or to reveal their true feelings, leads to heart wrenching loneliness, inability to truly connect. Loneliness builds resentment, the pain builds, it is expressed as rage, or turned inward and transformed into depression. Tragically, this pain was manifested to everyone in 2010. A Maldivian Airport employee, Ismail Mohammed Didi, committed suicide because he did not want to be oppressed for not being a Muslim.

    Earlier in the same year, a man called Mohammed Nazim announced that he could not see himself as a Muslim. He said that, “Many Maldivians are depressed and “collapsing inside” under the weight of the silence enforced on their questions of belief in Islam…” (http://minivannewsarchive.com/society/revelations-of-a-former-apostate-mohamed-nazim-speaks-to-minivan-11617) A few days later he recited the Shahada (Islamic Declaration of Faith) and reverted back to Islam. Yet he said something in his speech which fascinated me, he apologized for the grief that he had caused to his people by declaring that he was not a Muslim. Yet, what about the grief that his society had caused him, and others like him, I wondered. Would the Maldives ever apologize for the grief it has caused to its people who are not believers, or have serious doubts, yet cannot admit it due to fear of rejection?

    Will the Maldives ever apologize for the death of Ismail Mohammed Didi?

    Considering all of this, I wonder, maybe Kant’s universalism should be applied to the Maldives, for the sake of those who feel repressed?

    Then I said to myself, one can change a law in a country, but social attitudes are what really needs to be changed. The experience of alienation caused by the rejection of Islam will not be ended by changing the aspect of the constitution which denies freedom of religion.

    For the sake of saving Maldivian people from both the pain of seeing one of their own commit riddah (apostasy) and from the pain of experiencing repression for not being free to be true to themselves, social attitudes need to be changed in the Maldives.

    I believe that there are three important things which people have to come to learn for this social attitude to change, three things which are being taught, and must continue to be taught, until the social attitudes are able to deal with the reality of Maldivian apostasy.

    The first thing is that whether Maldivians like it or not, Maldivians will, at times, leave Islam, and attempts to force them into Islam through force will turn them into a liar and a socially alienated, angry or depressed person. It will create pain for everyone to force them back into the Ummah.

    The second thing that Maldivian people have to learn is that freedom of thought is an essential part of Islam.

    The freedom promoting essence of Islam has been well documented by many Maldivians. See the essay by Mr. Ali Ahsan on http://minivannewsarchive.com/politics/comment-islam-is-for-tolerance-of-the-other-20471) for an example. This view is growing, and will someday be accepted by the mainstream. Thank you to all who are spreading this view.

    What I don’t see enough of is refutation of the texts which, if taken out of context, do seem to imply that Islam requires repression of conscience. The Hadith, “Whoever changes his religion, kill him (Bukhari)has been used to justify punishing apostasy. If the literal meaning of this were applied, I should have been killed by the Muslims when I left Christianity to join islam, because I left my religion! Liberal scholars argue that other Hadith stating the same and ending with …”And join the other...” or “and go against the Muslims” indicate that only an Apostate who joined an attacking army was to be killed. They highlight the fact that at the time, to be a Muslim was to be attacked by the Pagans and Christians, and so, the seemingly co-ercive scriptures are not to be applied if the apostate is not a threat.

    The third thing which Maldivians have to learn is that, if a Maldivian leaves Islam, they would not stop loving their Maldivian people, so long as they are accepted for who they are. Being a non-Muslim does not stop one from loving, fighting for Muslims, and being nationalistic in a Muslim country. For example I recently read a beautiful article where it said that when the Muslims were praying in the recent Egyptian protest, the Christians surrounded them, joined hands with each other to protect them, to form a human shield around them. A Maldivian Christian said that being a Christian makes him more nationalistic than ever. I heard similar sentiments from a Maldivian Atheist.

    Maldives will probably always retain its Islamic identity politically and otherwise. But for the sake of all, Maldivian apostates need understanding and freedom, socially, and eventually, constitutionally.

    So all concerned for the Maldives, please continue to spread these three things which people have to learn to free the Maldives from this pain.

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  10. MINIVAN

    When I have the time, I will sharpen, edit, correct the above and submit it to you as a comment and opinion piece, or you can submit it as a letter, whatever you think is best. I believe it is important, please read it I HOPE you may agree...

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  11. MINIVAN: But for no now you can just release it here in this extremely crude form if you like, as by the time I am done with it, it will be ten classes above this, but this is ok to release as a random comment for now...

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  12. well said ben plewright!

    I completely agree with you, its about time we stop looking at things in black and white and start embracing/seeing other maldivians as fellow human beings and not as a muslim (or non-muslim).

    A nation indeed only deserves its sovereignty if it respects its people’s liberties: we demand FREEDOM OF RELIGION and its about time where anybody feels this way should stand up for their religious rights and start a religious revolution in the maldives!

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  13. How about a resolution to tackle homophobia? Maldives should be ashamed to lecture others on human rights when it violates the rights of its own citizens. Maldives violates ICCPR (to which it has acceded) when it violates the privacy of LGBT people.

    And will this conference address the issue of Shariah punishment for homosexuals and how that can be reconciled with the Yogyakarta Principles? I wont get my hopes high on that one, since Maldives hasn't accepted any of the LGBT-related recommendations in the last UPR. Shameless! Ambassador, I respectfully ask you to please look at your own country and deal with the issues here first.

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  14. “For example, in the Maldives, we are working, in our new democracy, to counteract the false perception that people must make the false choice between devotion to Islam on the one hand, and the full enjoyment of human rights on the other,”

    Hmm - it's a "false" perception, is it? a "false" choice? When a country chooses not a sign up to article 18 of the universal declaration of human rights? (Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.)

    You either have this right or you don't. In Maldives, we don't. Therefore there is no false perception, no false choice... there is no choice - and no chance for Maldivians to fully enjoy their human rights!

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