US calls for Maldives to address rights abuses, lift restrictions on religious freedom

The Maldivian government’s respect for freedom of religion has declined in the past year, according to the US State Department’s 2012 Report on International Religious Freedom.

The report highlighted “increasing reports of abuses of religious freedom, religious intolerance and governmental restriction of religious freedom and pressure to conform to a stricter interpretation of Islamic practices” in the Maldives.

The report concluded these concerns were especially relevant after the controversial transfer of power in February 2012.

The US State Department said it had emphasised during regular missions to the Maldivian government the importance of the right to religious freedom. It detailed that “the embassy advocated for the right of all residents of the country to practice the religion of their choice, and encouraged efforts to promote religious tolerance.”

Pointing out that the Constitution of the Maldives and other laws and regulations restricted freedom of religion, the report found the government to have enforced these in practice.

“The law prohibits citizens’ practice of any religion other than Islam and requires the government to exert control over all religious matters, including the practice of Islam. There were reports of societal abuses and discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief or practice,” the findings reported.

“There was an increasing trend among political leaders to call for greater limits on religious groups and activities. There was an increasing use of religion in political rhetoric, which led to derogatory statements about Christianity and Judaism, and harassment of citizens calling for a more tolerant interpretation of Islam. Anti-Semitic rhetoric among conservative parties continued.”

The report added that according to government records, all 350,800 citizens are required to be Muslim, with the majority of this number practicing Sunni Islam. Non-Muslim visitors to the country are only allowed to practice their religion in private, it added.

Increasing abuse of religious freedom

The US issued study claimed there was also an increase in reports of abuse of religious freedom, ranging from detention of individuals to pressure to conform to a stricter interpretation of the religion.

Pointing out that conversion to Islam from another religion can lead to the rescinding of the convert’s citizenship, the report stated that no such incidences were reported in 2012.

“The government subjected individuals who made public calls for religious tolerance to extended extrajudicial police detention”, the US State Department said in the report.  It added that the government had also “deported individuals found with Christian images” while detaining “several individuals for periods of several weeks on charges of ‘anti Islamic’ behaviour before releasing or deporting them”.

The report found that the government continued to control all religious matters, mainly through its Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

The State Department also stated that the Ministry published a weekly newsletter advocating a line of religion thought as that of the ministry itself.  The report added that government officials had said the newsletter was aimed at “maintaining a moderate Islamic environment.”

Banning ‘unauthorised gatherings’, state inaction against violence

The US State Department noted a number of incidences that occurred in 2012 to back its findings.

These included a government ban on discos and the deployment of police to conduct patrols to close down ‘unauthorised gatherings’. It also refers to the mob attack on the National Museum, which saw pre-Islamic artifacts destroyed. The attack occurred at the time of last year’s controversial power transfer on February 7.

“The ministry continued efforts to curb what it described as the ‘prevalence of un-Islamic practices’ in the country due to lack of religious awareness,” the US State Department claimed.

The report highlighted the case of a Bangladesh national who was kept in detention for 23 days prior to deportation, without being charged with any crime. According to the report, his employer alleged that he was deported after police discovered books on Christianity in his possession.

The report also accused the government of inaction over the attacks on local freelance journalist Ibrahim ‘Hilath’ Rasheed, who is described in the report as being “known for his moderate views on Islam.”

The report states that Hilath believes the “attack was carried out by violent extremists in the country.”

The report claimed that the blocking in the country of Hilath’s personal blog by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs in 2011, on the justification that it had anti-Islamic content, remained in effect.

Meanwhile, the US State Department said that one of the “more prominent theories” about the murder of moderate Islamic scholar and parliamentarian Afrasheem Ali October 2, 2012, was “that violent extremists viewed Afrasheem’s very public moderate approach to Islam as apostasy and killed him to send a message to moderate Muslims that a strict interpretation of Islam is the only acceptable approach.”

The report highlighted incidences of societal harassment and abuse targeted towards citizens, especially women, who do not conform to strict, narrow “acceptable guidelines”.

Religion in political rhetoric

The report claimed there had been an increased use and continuation of anti-Semitic rhetoric by public officials throughout the last 12 months.

One example given was a pamphlet titled “President Nasheed’s Devious Plot to Destroy the Islamic Faith of Maldivians”, authored by a former home minister of the current administration, Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed.

Dr Jameel was recently removed from his cabinet post by President Waheed over concerns of a potential conflict of interest after he became the presidential running mate for the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) – becoming a direct rival of the incumbent.

“The pamphlet received wide-spread attention upon it’s release and played a role in the events that eventually led to the February 7 transfer of power,” it read.

The report further refers to statements made by President Waheed, who came to office following last year’s transfer of power.

“During the year, President Waheed warned the nation that foreign parties were attempting to influence the country’s ideology and promote secularism; he urged citizens to resist these impulses,” the report read.

Laws governing religion

According to the findings of the report, the government interprets the Constitutional clause naming Sunni Islam as the official religion and the government regulations being based on Islamic law as imposing a requirement that all citizens must be Muslim.

Stating that Civil Law is subordinate to Islamic Law, the report points out that the law prohibits the making of public statements which are contrary to Islam, leaving offenders subject to a two to five year jail sentence.

Furthermore, all are prohibited to publicly discuss Islam unless by prior government invitation, and Imams are not allowed to prepare sermons without government authorisation.

Several constitutional articles declare the practice of Islam as mandatory, and all schools are required to “inculcate obedience to Islam” and “instill the love of Islam” in students.

The report said that any actions found to breach the country’s Religious Unity Act were subject to criminal penalties.

Specific crimes included in the act, which is highlighted in the US issued report, include “working to disrupt the religious unity of Maldivians”, “delivering religious sermons or engaging in public discussions in a way that infringes upon the independence and sovereignty of the country” and “propagating any religion other than Islam”.


25 thoughts on “US calls for Maldives to address rights abuses, lift restrictions on religious freedom”

  1. Dhivehistanis will see this as another plot by the Crusaders to meddle in their affairs, invade their land, destroy Islam and force alcohol and pork down their throats during the lunch hours of Ramazan. Yes, to the paranoid and xenophobic Dhivehistani mindset a report on freedom of religion is similar to the Portugeuse "invasion".

    You see, Dhivehistanis would rather that mullahs control all aspects of their life and would gladly let them import Arab culture here - from slavery to black beehive suits. But a hint of liberal ideas from the West would leave them frothing at the mouth. What's acceptable are only kaafir dollars and kaafir technology - Dhivehistanis would happily grab those.

    Every Friday prayer the mullah prays that "attempts at putting a crack on the fortress of Islam are destroyed". The State dept would have better luck trying to make an elephant fly because they'll be competing with Holy Allah.

  2. There is no way Maldivians will accept religious freedom any time soon and it is a real shame. They get brainwashed into thinking people of other faiths are evil and out to get them.

    I just hope education and increased access to the internet for young people will help bring a change towards their attitudes.

  3. Maldivian are most irreligious among the Muslims. 90% booze, fornicate, are druggies, but still 99% people wants strict Islamic law to be imposed upon them. Are we missing something here? Isn’t some mysterious happening in the Dhivehitani brains? CIA is incomprehensive about the psychosis functioning of Moledavians. Democracy wouldn’t work on mentally retards, there are may be few Maldivian who don’t care about any religion but 99% of people will wet their pants or will get fit if you talk about religious freedom. Nobody knows what drives them so crazy about Islam a religion even they don’t follow in its purest form. They will do all the shit and believe they can wash all the sins by visiting Mecca once in life time and will be as pure as new born, they like enjoying this life and also don’t want miss hereafter, and these retards are hypocrites even trying to cheat on their lord. So do you think America can influence such people especially with democracy? May be with some green bucks …….


    EU has also called for more responsibility by Maldives parties. And very rightly so.

    The world is concerned that Maldivains politicians as grown adults are acting like teenagers.

    One day Abdulla Yameen condemn Waheed for campaigning on Gov funds and next evening proudly proclaims that it is PPM that infact holds the Gov. And the 'great economist' does not see himself as a laughing stock. All key posts in Gov are from his party.

    Adaalath condemn everything about modernity but does not dare to get out of the coalition that does 'infidel's work.. such a laughingstock.

    Former President Nasheed appears to take a principled based stand on issues, but the media is rife with his back room deals with arch enemy PPM and Yameen. So there goes MPS credibility.

    Dr. Waheed is too scared to take a stand on anything, but promises leadership - another great contradiction. ie, leadership by inaction.

    Gasim makes a new and radical headline everyday.

    Against this backdrop, major issues like the murder of MP Afrasheem goes unanswered.. Even the UN has expressed concern. A murder without clues is highly unlikely in a closely knit small community.

    Given the above, the EU and others would be very very right in calling the Maldivains political leaders to be responsible and behave like grown adults.

    But would they listen. No. They are sure to condemn EU tomorrow.

    The worst kept secret is that there is common interest that binds all these 'enemies' - ie, tourism and money.

  5. when nasheed was in power america was so confident that he would bring multi religion into maldives. We dont want multi religion. Do you hear USA


  7. What?......lift restrictions on religious freedom? a sunni muslim nation?
    Hell needs to freeze over first before religious freedom is introduced in sunni muslim countries, be it Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan or Pakistan.
    After all haven't the mad mullahs been brainwashing young muslim minds for generations into believing that religious plurality is wrong in the eyes of allah, that sunni muslims are the 'true believers', 'god's chosen people' and the epicentre of the whole goddam universe?
    As a cow worshipping 'kuffar' I find that concept very amusing.
    Incidentally India, with a hindu majority of 86% idol worshippers, remains fiercely secular and the hindu majority even gives Haj subsidies to its muslim brothers.
    Makes me appreciate being a civilised hindu......we have so much to teach you intolerant neanderthals.

  8. @Runda

    You got it right. Even the CIA will have problems figuring this one.

  9. Freedom of religion will arrive in Maldives in India.....Christmas, Eid and Diwali are all national holidays.
    I can't see Christmas or Diwali being national holidays in the Maldives anytime soon.
    You sad people have so much catching up to do.

  10. @Ahmed, when you say "we", do you mean, "you"? Because I want religious freedom in Maldives & I'm a Maldivian.

  11. @Runda.

    You are right, there must be something inherent in us that just doesn't make sense.I often wonder that too. Why most of us are hell bent on this 100% muslim nation when literally, all the males would copulate with a donkey if he has a fraction of. A chance. Adultery, homosex, abortions, drinking, drugs, murders, larceny, rape, child abuse... All these are committed just like any other nation, of every faith.

    I would describe it as Hyprocrisy. Fornicatots hide behind their faith so that wife wouldn't have a clue. Bi/homo sexuals, same. Drinkers want to show off their manliness in defying the shackles of religion. Drug users want to copy cool modern living. Child abusers have a heaven with children being in their religious classes. And the unlearned, ignorants can easily become a mullah, create a name for himself, conn the gullible and rise among the respected elite.

    This is one pucked up nation!

  12. y shud we? who wants it in the Maldives?Some ppl in parliament?

  13. What America really wants is to behave like Islam practicing Muslims behave. You can see Islam growing and promoting in America, Canada, UK and many other EU countries. America only worries because Maldives acting like the ignorant Muslim societies. Islam does not permit to force to become a Muslim rather Islam teaches Muslims to preach Islam wisely.

    Maldives is facing a dangerous problem as the country is now lead by narrow-minded Sheikhs who used to live their life from the income they got from Arab countries selling young boys who were studying Islam in countries like Pakistan, Egypt and India.

    After coming back Maldives, these guys started practicing the same. Now the only difference is selling ignorant Maldivians who know nothing about Islam. Though these guys know nothing about Islam they love Islam. So these Sheikh-thugs taking advantage of such boys at the MNDF & Police at the same time Waheed, Yaameen, Qasim, was hungry becoming President of this country and that they all united and overthrew President Nasheed on February 7, 2012

  14. Usual double standards from the USA. Saudi Arabia, which has absolutely ZERO religious freedom, is never criticised.

  15. A prosperous free and just society is a dream of all human beings. Many peoples' have realized this dream, but for Maldivians it has remained just that. If at all we have regressed on it, in the past two decades.

    We have come to sincerly belive that we can have everything without offering anything in return.

    We want justice, but we offer none to others. We want peace, but we offer hatered and violence to those who differ from us. We want prosperity but never at the cost of others prospering.

    We demand respect for our religion and culture while we denigrade other religions and cultures.

    And no, do not place the sole blame of our sorry state on the Sheikhs and the politicians. They are merely an epitome of us the people. Politicians would not plunder if that would mean the loss of their support base. Populist Mullahs and Sheikhs would would not make hate speeches and demand compliance to their intolerant policies if it do not strike a chord with the citizens. This is after all an electoral democracy.

    Many of us are supportive of Islamic Law, rather than a secular "man-made" law - as long as this law does not extend to us on a personal level. Pre-marital sex is fine, and certainly a private matter, except when the neighbour is doing it. Even if some us are tolerant with the neighbours' sex lives - the homos deserve only ridicule.

    Alcohol sale and distribution is a sin, equivalent to consuming it. But this is where the Sheikhs do not mind bending Gods law, and mosques get built on the proceeds of tourism revenue.

    So people take a deep breath and decide what it is that you want. There is no picking choosing between the best of both worlds. We choose to be a part of a prosperous and just golobal socity where religion is a personal matter or do we want a theocracy? There is nothing in between. There needs to be a pradigm shift in peoples' thinking, and critical thought must supercede pseudo-religous dogma to truly make an informed judgement. It is high time to look in our mirrors and start asking this question of ourselves.

    Brothers and sisters, for our dreams as a society to be realized, we need to first wake up and acknowledge the nightmare we have created for ourselves. Only then will anything get better.

  16. The US wants Maldivians to address rights abuses!!?????? Address religious freedom????

    laughed my butt off??!

    Attorney representing various [GITMO-]detainees claims US military has ‘started abusing prisoners who want to contact their lawyers’

    US military, Afghanistan reach deal for troop pullout after human rights abuse complaints

    Predator Drone Strikes: 50 Civilians Are Killed For Every 1 Terrorist, and the CIA Only Wants to Up Drone Warfare

    Sexual Abuse in Immigration Detention in America!

    Type in these and you'll find a lot to ponder upon!

    And what about the targeting of reporters that whistle blowers want to contact!???

    Chilling report: Obama’s DOJ spied on Fox News’ James Rosen; Criminalizes reporting; Update: Fox issues statement

    RT U.S. Justice Department Admits Spying On AP Journalists

    Dumb Maldivians commenting here doesn't have a clue what the US is after!

    The US is a hypocrite!How come they do not address Saudi Arabia on the same level as the Dumb Maldivians.

    Maldivians are fools to trust them! I would have believed this from a US citizen than the US govt. The people there are more sincere and humane!

    And i definitely think the terrorism issue will rise in Maldives as the US is the number one ally of terrorists, arming them.How else will they have a war against terrorism as they want to sell their own human killing machines??!!

  17. @ peasant,

    Totally agree with you on the issues facing the Maldives! but depending on the US is a belligerent lie??!

  18. Check on the Boston bombing conspiracy to find out how the blame was put on innocent Muslims from Chechnya??

    There are so many people supporting Jahar tsarnaev, a ninteen year old boy fighting to become a dentist but now in solitary confinement?! Of course, the mainstream media will not bring this so go to sincere US citizens who believe false flag events are very likely!

  19. Agree completely with Derek.

    But I must also observe - If your religion is so great, if you're so devoted to it - what are you afraid of? Is your faith in Islam so weak and fragile that you must be protected - lest you convert to another religion.

    Why is it always the religious zealots who twist the meaning of RELIGIOUS FREEDOM = The freedom to practice the religion of their own choosing. They are so afraid that people will change their religion - and then what would happen to their power? Gone. And you'll have a prosperous country.

    Cos Afghanistan was the beacon light of prosperity under the taliban rule right? The people were doing so well that foreigners were trying to sneak into the border right? Cos quality of life was so great right?

    And of course. Those countries where religious freedom is practiced are doing so badly right! They're poverty stricken, infested with disease, have no educational systems, no infrastructure, are corrupt to the highest levels of authority, do not contribute to the world in any way - right?

    The hypocrisy displayed here makes me wanna puke! All these religious zealots screaming bloody murder would take a British Passport or American Passport with open arms!

    But God will ultimately judge all.

  20. Don't talk about right abuse you f*cking US

  21. Miss India.

    You can keep on putting cow dung on your forehead and praying for the cow and feeding the cow until you have no means to support the cow and your family.

    If you are civilized person, you would not put your cow dung" on you forehead and then worship to an animal that you feed .

  22. @ Kuribee
    The red tika on my forehead is made from 'sindoor' not cowdung you dim retard.....and do I sound as if I am in any way short of cash?.....or eager to take up a crap low paid job in some primitive Maldivian atoll? C'mon.
    Why you short, fat, scary looking people consider yourselves 'superior' to us civilised Indians I will never know!!
    @ human being
    Israel is a jewish state granted, but unlike you 'true believers' and 'god's chosen people' does not stop others from practising their religion. Why are muslims so afraid of other religions? Is you faith so weak?
    Holy Krishna!! must be the most insecure bloody morons on the planet!!

  23. WOW, MissIndia is mad now!


    oooohhhhh! So your countries gained such wealth without colonialism, and torture, did they?

    Of course, the formation, growth and power of empires, their colonial regimes (driven to the far reaches of their worlds by appetites for wealth, resources, and human labor), and globalization are intimately linked.

    All i hear now is the state of European countries

    EU to face big problems in Italy and Spain after Cyprus bailout.

    lets see what happens!?

  24. @MissIndia or whoever..
    Israel being a Jewish state is not a problem for me also. But why is US worried about 'Islamic states' but not 'Jewish state'? That's the question. Its not about conversion or anything else.


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