Comment: State-sponsored fundamentalism and lack of freedom of speech to blame for violence, not protests

Dear Dr Hassan Saeed,

I would like to express the following comments in response to your letter in The Guardian today, ‘Violent protests in the Maldives’.

Rather than suggesting that the recent increase of violent behaviour in the Maldives is a direct result of MDP protests, it would seem more obviously related to the state-sponsored fundamentalism and lack of freedom of speech which has been endemic over the last few months.

This has engendered an increasingly intolerant attitude in Maldivian society, silencing scholars promoting a moderate, progressive version of Islam and spawning hate-mongering through threatening videos and websites etc.

With regard to your assertion that Mr Nasheed is being ‘investigated’ by your ‘completely independent’ judicial system, the fact is that he has been investigated by the police, who can not be independent of the government, since they take their orders from the Minister of Home Affairs.

Furthermore, Mr Nasheed is being treated differently from other people by the courts, for example, prioritising his case, whilst there are 2000 criminal cases, including murder, child abuse and rape, pending for years in the criminal courts. Most of the accused in these cases are at liberty.

Lastly, whilst you ask that Amnesty International report alleged abuses to the Human Rights Commission and the Police Integrity Commission, the recommendations of these institutions are not meaningfully considered by your government.

The policeman Mr Ali Ahmed was found in violation of law by the Police Integrity Commission on charges of abuse and criminal assault and it was recommended that he be dismissed. However, your Home Minister decided to reward him by giving him a promotion. When the Prosecutor General filed charges against him, the ‘independent judiciary’ dismissed the charges on procedural grounds.

The future of democracy must be based on freedom of speech and respect for human rights, as outlined in the celebrity letter.

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18 thoughts on “Comment: State-sponsored fundamentalism and lack of freedom of speech to blame for violence, not protests”

  1. Dr.Hassan Saeed and Dr. Mohamed Jameel basic education was from a Madrasaa in Pakistan.They'll never admit to fundamenalism

  2. Lucy Johnson, you make a rational point based on facts, common sense, and logic. Therefore, I reject it.

  3. This letter is absoloute nonesense and based on illogic and misinformation.

    Anyway I am scientist and I can affirm that women are incapable of writing with any kind of clarity or engaging in point by point rebuttals of arguements made by men. Is the writer truly a woman?

    In any event, whether this was written by a man of below average intelligence or an extra-ordinarily intelligent woman, this person is a liar.

    There is no extremism in the Maldives and anyone who says there is should be garrotted for defamation.

  4. lack of freedom of speech? mdp was marching up and down the capital calling for 'baghees' to be hanged, and you say we have an endemic lack of free speech?
    anni was in bed with the 'fundamentalists' in order to kick out gayoom, and afrasheem was one of the people who frequently suffered mdp's abuse.

  5. A single point that you missed Lucy Johnson. The court has ordered the Maldives Police Service to bring President Nasheed to court. A similar order was issued to the Maldives Police Service more than a year ago to bring ABDULLA HAMEED to court. It lies somewhere with a lot of dust on it. The man has taken the people's money and fed it to his children.

  6. I echo typical maldivian. A cogent well thought out argument is too boring. You must be a missionary on a mission to convert me. Minivan of course is biased toward infidels. This letter is utter illogical nonsense, as our esteemed leader the brilliant scientist Dhivehi Hangurama says - "there is no extremism in Maldives and anyone who says there is must be garrotted on the spot."

  7. Lucy? Who ths hell are you? You know nothing about Maldives. What you are talking is complete rubbish and nonsense. Get a life.

  8. Hassan Saeed is a power hungry lunatic. That we know.

    Lucy Johnson seems to be a bigger lunatic than Hassan Saeed for poking her nose in the petty political squabbles of this hopelessly confused & insignificantly small country.

  9. BTW it was Mr. Nasheed who actually created an "Islamic Ministry" and brought these bearded nincompoops into the govt and gave them all the resources for three years to spread their style of Islam.

  10. Lucy, what you should realise is the simple truth that the most extremist group in Maldives called "dot groupe' is actually supporters of MDP and nasheed. They include likes of sheikh fareed and fauzy. MDP and Nasheef relies ib them. They are part of MDP.

  11. typical maldivian and peasant.. i would like to add.. This could be a zionst agenda.. lucy could be a mosard agent trying to facilitate Israeli jets to land in Maldives. She may be fighting an intellectual war with us.

  12. This may be state sponsored. Or may be state is too feeble to face the growing tumour within the society.

    Whatever it is there are two very significant threats here in the Maldives. One is the growing radicals with a free hand to incite hate; and the other is the fact there are lots of drug addicts, with no jobs, who would do anything for a few bucks. These two combined, with the help of radical fundings from Saudi backed sources, Maldives is turning out to be like Mafia driven Chicago!

  13. I repeat: the mind of woman is best suited for the intricacies of child rearing, not politics and social analyses.

    Your gender disqualifies you from having a relevant opinion on anything of significance. So begone, wrecthed woman, and stay out of our sovereign affairs!

    In the meanwhile, stop lying to the international comunity and defaming us.

    There are no 'extremists' here. Only a few good souls among idiots, secularists, heretics and harlots. Such are the 'MalDeviants'.

  14. Where do these people come out from? This Lucy Johnson has no clue at all.
    Gayoom for all his ills tried to control the islamists but mdp kept screaming about human rights etc.
    Then when they came to power they gave a ministry and freedom to run it as they saw. Fareed is an activist and now waheed has been put in a straight jacket by Adaalat.
    It is time that all parties like mdp and ppm get together and save Maldives from these idiots.

  15. We must not attack the writer for expressing her view.

    However we must help Lucy understand all sides of the problem.

    For instance she seems to be laboring under the misconception that former President Nasheed's liability for the illegal arrest and detention of Criminal Court Chief Justice Abdulla Mohamed was investigated by the Maldives Police Service.

    However I think it would be helpful to point out to Lucy that it was an independent statutory body, the Human Rights Commission of Maldives, which carried out the investigation. Also Lucy must note that the Nasheed-regime's decision to arrest the Judge and keep him under detention was condemned and criticized by the UN's Human Rights Council as well as the head of the Australian branch of the International Commission of Jurists.

    So based on the above information Lucy can now make an informed decision when making her assertion.

    Also, Lucy and others abroad might not be aware that the Prosecutor General, who fills an independent post created by the Constitution, had announced his intention to press charges against President Nasheed while he was still President. Therefore this is not a case of a government out on a vendetta but a State Official who is merely fulfilling his constitutional duty.

    As for your charge of "state-sponsored" fundamentalism I don't think it would hold water if you had actually visited the Maldives. We are historically a liberal country and our interpretation of Islam has never been called fundamentalist. There are deeply conservative elements in our society these days who have formed NGOs to promote their interests. These NGOs flourished in the Nasheed regime after President Nasheed established the first ever Ministry of Islamic Affairs and granted a Cabinet portfolio to a conservative. Nasheed's predecessor Qayyoom never accommodated these deeply conservative elements in his Cabinet. However this is no surprise as Nasheed's 2008 Presidential campaign involved charges of apostasy against Qayyoom as well as criticism against Qayyoom's wife Nasrina Ali for not wearing the veil. Qayyoom was even forced to rebut these allegations on national television.

    We are a complex society as are all societies. An outsider must really spend some time with us and get to know all sides of the story before buying into statements made buy politicians who have an interest behind everything they say.

  16. I am not a Gayoom supporter and more likely to be siding with Nasheed on many issues, but I agree with manik.

    Gayoom had Islamic education in Egypt and Nasheed studied in the UK, but Gayoom did a lot more to control the Islamists from spreading their ideologies throughout the country and in fact he even tried to prevent people from doing such things as wearing the face veil. For Gayoom, empowering women was important and he encouraged women to study and become public figures too.

    Nasheed on the other hand went abroad and told the international community about groups of people in the Maldives with Al Qaeda and Taliban connections while giving then every power at home to preach and practice their views.

    Since you need to talk of God and religion to hold any power in the Maldives and Nasheed being not interested in the religious talk, he chose to let the 'beardies' have their say in religious matters.

    In Gayoom's time, he at least got himself on a podium, spoke in Arabic for a while, and told the people how to live without growing beards or covering themselves in black sheets. Many Maldivians still want that.


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