“Don’t give in to fanatical minority”, Reporters Without Borders urges government

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) have issued a statement urging the government “not to give in to the fanatical minority” and to do “all it can to ensure the media are free to tackle any subjects they choose.”

The statement came in response to the Islamic Ministry’s ordering of the Communications Authority of the Maldives (CAM) to block the website of controversial blogger, Ismail Khilath “Hilath” Rasheed, on the grounds that it contained anti-Islamic material.

“The increase in acts of religious intolerance is a threat to the Maldives’ young democracy”, RSF said its statement, requesting the “immediate reopening of [Hilath’s] blog.”

RSF noted that there were harsh penalties for blasphemy under Maldivian law following new regulations enforcing the 1994 Religious Unity Act, which bans the media from circulating any material that “humiliates Allah, his prophets, the Koran, the Sunnah or the Islamic faith”.

Incidents involving media workers are rare in the Maldives, RSF observed, “but that is only because most of them prefer to censor themselves and stay away from subjects relating to Islam, unlike Ismail Khilath Rasheed.”

“According to Rasheed, the Islamic Affairs Ministry had his blog in its sights because he is a Sufi Muslim, not a Sunni like most Maldivians, and has always been highly critical of religious fundamentalism.”

RSF compiles the annual Press Freedom Index. The Maldives is currently ranked 52nd out of 178 countries.

President Mohamed Nasheed’s Press Secretary, Mohamed Zuhair, acknowledged that the decision would affect the Maldives’ reputation for press freedom.

“The government has a responsibility to protect the tenets of Islam,” Zuhair said, but urged Hilath to appeal the decision: “I believe there should be more dialogue and discussion before action is taken.”

“Blocking a website containing undesirable material is not an option for the Maldivian government. The Internet is larger than 1-2 Maldivian bloggers. Should we shut out all content deemed undesirable by Islamic scholars, and is it even technically possible with filtering?”

Zuhair noted that the Maldives had benefited from having one the highest rates of Internet penetration in the region.

According to Facebook statistics, one third of the Maldives population have accounts on the social network, the vast majority of them aged between 18-35.


36 thoughts on ““Don’t give in to fanatical minority”, Reporters Without Borders urges government”

  1. ...with today's media, you can sensor one person for a very long time, sensor some people for some time, but cannot sensor everybody all the time!!!

    Mohamed Ali

  2. hilath is a family member of president nasheed. he was released from prision as nasheed ordered to do so as he did not want people from his family or his close people to be in jail no matter what crime they commit. hilath was taken to prision when police found him with pocession of large amount of drugs, over dosed in drugs with his boy friend in an un inhabited island.
    if criminals are let free, i dont see a use of a constitution. rules and regulations are made to set certain boundries so that people can lead a good life. those who go beyond these boundries need to be dealt with.
    this hilath use to write absolute fith regarding God, islam and those who follow it. he publishes gay pornography and actively promotes sodomy. he has threatened people in his blog with physical injury. i dont think such a person should be allowed to roam free in the society even if he is a relative of president. and maldives will be governed with the local rules and regulations. its not a business of reporter without borders.

  3. I wonder what Reporters San Frontiers have to say about numerous (Anders Breivik type of) threats Hilath made in his blog against those who are following islam/ those who oppose him.
    To quote him: "Rainbow maldives and my friendly parteys will seek out and physically harm any mullah who work against us. I will be putting these drug parteys to good use"

  4. Hilath who?
    Can this be the same guy who was caught red-handed with an under aged Majeediyaa school boy in a bedroom?
    Koba meenage ladhu hayaath.

  5. Zuhair's quotes are surprisingly good to hear from a person in his position. Usually most politicians all over the world understand little about the internet and it's underlying technologies. In this day and age, trying to censor the internet is a folly. Anyone who wishes to do so should look up the Streisand effect.

    But there's also another side to this story. Hilath's blog would perfectly fit the description of an anti-Islamic gay blogger, rather than a Sufi blogger as he puts it. If the government gets involved now and unban his site, you can bet the opposition will use every bit of this story to massively boost their already rising popularity using the religion card. He's putting Anni, who is already walking a very tight rope in trying to appeal both to the international community as well as the locals, in a difficult spot. In other words, Hilath might well be harming his cause much more than he realises perhaps, because I don't see how he'll get any more freedom than he has now if the old regime gets elected again.

  6. @ ainth

    Hilath was arrested because the caretakers of that island thought he was on drugs because he fell asleep on the island, possibly under the shade of a tree. He didn't "pass out in the forest", as many people seem to think.

    Hilath was released soon after because the police made a mistake listening to those islanders. They didn't find any drugs, and had no grounds to detain him in the first place. Please don't post lies. I hear there's a special place in hell reserved just for liars like you.

  7. how can a person who promote sodomy, apostacy, and publishes filth regarding God (in the form of comments) in his blog, goes on telling that he regects hadith, goes on abusing drugs and threatening pious muslims can still claim that he is a 'sufi' muslim?

  8. To Reporters without borders:
    Its not a fanatical minority the telecommunications authority of maldives gave in to. Its the constitution and the rules and regulations of the maldives they gave into.

  9. @ ammaday
    You are the one who is lying.
    Hilath was over-dosed with drugs and police found illegal narcotics with him when he was arrested. Police took him to the island health center and the doctor who examined him diagnosed it as opiate overdose and it was written in the medical reports. All of this was widely reported in the local media at that time.
    He was released from prision under president Nasheed's order.

  10. "Blocking a website containing undesirable things is not an option for the Maldivian government" says president's mouth piece Zuhair.
    Well, Zuhair, there are rules and regulations that are made under maldivian constitution and the the government has to follow those, there is no option on that.
    I am ashamed that the presidents mouth piece didnt know this much. Maybe we shouldnt expect them to, as many of them are the same people willing to shed their clothes and have web cam sex.

  11. Lets also not forget that this hilath person operates many other blogs under false names. we need to target them also, along with other anti-islam hate sites/ blogs.

  12. Fanatical "majority" should be the right phrase. The imperialistic wahhabee tyrants have taken over the Maldives.

  13. The dark ages are her stay with the mindset of those who judge others. Remember what it was like before we had freedom of speech and thought? Clearly not!

  14. Here in Maldives people are forced to be Muslims. What a crap this is!
    By the way, I you don’t like someone’s writing please don’t read. I think this is the proper way.

  15. wow for once Zuhair has said something really good. It is madness for Islamic ministry to have a say on who can blog and not, in this day and age, censorship like that would not work. Though i might not always agree with what Hilath writes, i do have to admit he is one courageous blogger who does not self-sensor himself when writing.

  16. every maldivian should have the right to follow a religon they want . blocking such websites or bogs will not solve the equation . bottom line islmaic extremists are hooligans damaging foreign stuff that was plcaed near addu convention center

  17. They censor the Internet because they are equipped with madharusa technology. For them information and communication technology still means beating tom-tom drums.

  18. It's sad that extremists think that for their cause, even spreading lies about people are halal.

    It's true that President Nasheed is my second cousin but I wonder which Majeediyya boy I slept with in school because I clearly remember very openly writing on my blog that the 21-year-old man I lost my virginity to was when I was at the "old" age of 29. Since I left Majeediyya at the age of 16, I am wondering how those extremist commentators got mixed up. Perhaps they failed maths in school and now pissed off at me.

    And about the drugs: I was let go by Police because I didn't test positive for drugs and no drugs was found on me in that uninhabited island. It was not President Nasheed coming to my rescue. Anyone can ask Police Shiyam about it.

  19. For someone who plays on the guys team Hilath you sure need to MAN UP! Stop being a whiny drama queen and be a man! Handle this like a man!

  20. @ainth the angry little girl

    Your piety is truly evident in your tendency to constantly lie about people you personally dislike. Don't talk about things you don't know. Your opinion is not as important as you might think.

  21. Fanatical minority is right. Because that minority is Mr. Gayoom and the likes of of Dr.Saeed and Dr.Jameel, and Dr. Afraasheem, alumni of the International Islamic University of Malaysia, who in any other context, may not be described as fanatical. But in this case, these men are leading the fanaticizm for political gain. Concerned countries must question them their claims of being civilized...I call upon the High Commissioners of Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka to prevail in taking these men to task, instead of only expecting the government to act tough . Tks.

  22. minivan news clearly influences world opinion on maldives because we don't seem to have many active english language media outlets. So it maybe the case that reporters without borders just read the few kaafir bloggers and their comments on a typical minivan islam bashing article and made up their judgement. However the fact about the matter on Hillath is that he is a minority making lots of noises on what he thinks Maldives should be. But the majority of the Maldivians are not yet about to embrace his views yet.

    He is infact doing no body any good trying to rebel with his freedom of expression thing. As for banning him on Maldives, that is good so as to prevent actual violence from happening out of his dark literature.. what we need in this country is peace. and peace cannot be achieved by unlimited freedom of expression. There shall be limits and there are limits even in western societies. What did the US kill Awlaki for? Was it not for expressing his ideas?

  23. Hilath u think, people like u, encourage u, NO BOY.. ppl hates u, and we dont want u in our country.. Get lost!

  24. the doctor who examine this hilath person when he was brought to the health facility clearly diagnosed it as opiate overdose. he even told the local media at that time that he can exactly pin point which type of drug hilath has abused. the arresting police officers did find drugs at the scene.
    i dont know how a drug abuser caught red handed who goes on spreading hatred (& threatening people) and practicing/ supporting sodomy.
    being the cousin of president do the solve the mystery.

  25. one another thing, i wont even be suprised to know that the islamic ministry banned his hate blog because of the request from hilaths own family members.

  26. When an anonymus person wrote something against hilath in muraasil.com it was taken as a threat an JJ Robinson wrote a big news report about it on 11 march 2010 here on minivan news.
    Yet when hilath explicitly threatened people who oppose him with physical violence using drug gangs, its not a news to minivan news.
    Shame on you JJ robinson.

  27. Agree with Ko

    Hilath, in your self absorbtion and your desire to bring attention to yourself, you forget that you are feeding the very people who will scalp you and lock you up forever should they get back into government. Enough is enough, Hilath, time to back off. Who gives a damn about your sexuality and your religious leanings? Our country is swinging to the extreme right and we need all the wits we have to counter that. If you believe our constitution is flawed then have the guts to do something about it and challenge the constitution.


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