Islamic Minister, MPs, PPM and religious groups condemn UN Human Rights Commissioner

Statements by visiting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay calling for a moratorium on flogging as a punishment for fornication and criticising the Muslim-only clause for citizenship in the Maldivian constitution have been widely condemned by religious NGOs, public officials and political parties.

In an address delivered in parliament last Thursday, Pillay said the practice of flogging women found guilty of extra-marital sex “constitutes one of the most inhumane and degrading forms of violence against women, and should have no place in the legal framework of a democratic country.”

The UN human rights chief called for a public debate “on this issue of major concern.” In a press conference later in the day, Pillay called on the judiciary and the executive to issue a moratorium on flogging.

On article 9(d) of the constitution, which states “a non-Muslim may not become a citizen of the Maldives,” Pillay said the provision was “discriminatory and does not comply with international standards.”

Local media widely misreported Pillay as stating during Thursday evening’s press conference that she did not believe the Maldives had a Constitution, which prompted a great deal of public outrage. Her comment, however, was in response to a challenge from Miadhu Editor Gabbe Latheef, who asked “if you believe we have a Constitution, why are you speaking against our Constitution?”

“I don’t believe you have a Constitution, you have a constitution. The constitution conforms in many respects to universally respected human rights. Let me assure you that these human rights conform with Islam,” Pillay said on Minivan News’s recording of the press conference, however her phrasing was widely misinterpreted by the media.

Shortly after Pillay’s speech in parliament, Islamic Minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari told local media that “a tenet of Islam cannot be changed” and flogging was a hudud punishment prescribed in the Quran (24:2) and “revealed down to us from seven heavens.”

Bari noted that article 10 of the constitution established Islam as “the basis of all the laws of the Maldives” and prohibited the enactment of any law “contrary to any tenet of Islam,” adding that the Maldives has acceded to international conventions with reservations on religious matters such as marriage equality.

In his Friday prayer sermon the following day, Bari asserted that “no international institution or foreign nation” had the right to challenge the practice of Islam and adherence to its tenets in the Maldives.

Meanwhile, the religious conservative Adhaalath Party issued a statement on Thursday contending that tenets of Islam and the principles of Shariah were not subject to modification or change through public debate or democratic processes.

Adhaalath Party suggested that senior government officials invited a foreign dignitary to make statements that they supported but were “hesitant to say in public.”

The party called on President Mohamed Nasheed to condemn Pillay’s statements “at least to show to the people that there is no irreligious agenda of President Nasheed and senior government officials behind this.”

The Adhaalath statement also criticised Speaker Abdulla Shahid and MPs in attendance on Thursday for neither informing Pillay that she “could not make such statements” nor making any attempt to stop her or object to the remarks.

The party insisted that Pillay’s statements and the SAARC monuments in Addu City were “not isolated incidents” but part of a “broad scheme” by the government to “pulverize Islam in the Maldives and introduce false religions”.

Later that night, the Civil Society Coalition – a network of NGOs that campaigned successfully against regulations to allow sale of alcohol in city hotels to non-Muslims last year – announced a nation-wide mass protest on December 23 against the government’s alleged efforts to securalise the country.

Spokesperson Mohamed Didi claimed the current administration was pursuing an agenda to “wipe out the Islamic faith of the Maldivian people” through indoctrination and “plots” to legalize apostasy and allow freedom of religion.

He suggested that “the few people who cannot digest the religion of the people should immediately leave the country.”

The NGO coalition said it expected “over a 100,000 people” to participate in the planned protest.

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) announced today that it would join the protest. PPM interim council member and religious scholar MP Dr Afrashim Ali told newspaper Haveeru that Pillay “can’t say that to us” and condemned the statements on behalf of the party.

Afrashim called on the executive, parliament and judiciary to enact a law prohibiting any statements that “opposes the principles of Islam.”

In a statement today, religious NGO Islamic Foundation of Maldives (IFM) strongly condemned Pillay’s remarks and criticised MPs for not objecting at Thursday’s event.

Pillay’s statements in parliament amounted to calling on MPs “to legalize fornication and gay marriage,” IFM contended.

“Therefore, anyone who agrees to this surely becomes an apostate,” the statement reads. “And if this [fornication and homosexuality] is spread anywhere, Almighty God has warned that fire will be rained upon them from the seven heavens.”

Meanwhile, a Facebook group was formed yesterday with members calling for her to be “slain and driven out of the country.”  The group currently has 207 members.

One member posted a banner to open a public debate on whether citizens should rise up and either “kill or lynch” those who “deny the Quran, not tolerate Islam and undermine the constitution.”
The opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) also issued a statement calling on the government not to accept Pillay’s suggestion for a public debate on flogging.
Although DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali was the first to shake Pillay’s hand after her address, the party’s statement argued that “neither a Maldivian nor a foreigner has the right to consider the enforcement of a punishment specified in Islam a violation of human rights.”

Independent MP Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed meanwhile told newspaper Haveeru that Speaker Abdulla Shahid had to “bear full responsibility” for allowing Pillay to “talk about changing penalties of Islam in front of Muslims,” adding that Dhivehi translations of her address were distributed to MPs in advance.

“This is a very serious problem. You can’t say flogging is a form of violence against women,” he said.

Nasheed explained that Pillay’s remarks were tantamount to proclaiming in the Indian parliament that “worshiping cows is so uncivilised.”

Echoing Nasheed’s sentiments, MP Abdulla Abdul Raheem of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said allowing Pillay to make her statements was “a mockery of parliament”, arguing that the Speaker’s decision to allow her “to openly speak against the constitution” violated parliamentary rules of procedure.

Local daily Haveeru also published an op-ed by editor Moosa Latheef censuring Speaker Abdulla Shahid and the MPs in attendance for not objecting to Pillay as her call for a public debate on flogging “made it very clear that she was working to shake the main pillar of Maldivians.”

Speaking at a UNDP event yesterday, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Ahmed Faiz noted that the constitution placed limits on free speech and the right to free expression “cannot be used under any circumstances outside of Islamic principles or in violation of a tenet of Islam.”

Protests led by religious groups that began outside the UN building yesterday are set to continue tonight near the tsunami memorial.


39 thoughts on “Islamic Minister, MPs, PPM and religious groups condemn UN Human Rights Commissioner”

  1. Nicely written, Naish. Thank you.

    I, for one, would like to thank Ms Pillay for opening this up. It needed to be said. And look at the depths of ignorance this has exposed!

    See, Mr Shahid, what you have presided upon, and let foster. Do you feel like Dr Frankenstein now?

    Ashamed to be a Maldivian today.

    Grow a set of balls, Mr President, and regulate this ignorance that's going to ruin you, and with you our chances of consolidating this democracy.

  2. I don't mean to imply Ms Pillay to be the monster 🙂 I meant the MPs that he presides over! Shame plays havoc with the senses

  3. so, out of all the journalists, live tv cameras present only minivan news heard what she said correctly?
    you people are biased and we dont trust you.
    also, secularists have made worse facebook pages/ blogs and writing worse things towards the muslims. so you selectively taking a comment from a facebook page and publishing proves your propaganda.

  4. also this ahmed naish person is the main gateway of muslim related news of maldives to the islamphobes here and around the world.
    all of them give a link to an article written by ahmed naish, minivan news in their hate blogs.
    thee mi mujthamau halaaku kuran ulhey meeheh.

  5. Maldivian Foreign Minister on this issue:

    "What's there to discuss about flogging? There is nothing to debate about in a matter clearly stated in the religion of Islam. No one can argue with God,": Maldivian FM

    "Maldives is a 100 percent Muslim country." : Maldivian FM

    The government will not allow debates to be held in the Maldives on issues that are against the fundamentals of Islam, Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem said today.

  6. Haveeru & Miadhu news report that more than 100 NGOs (mostly secular mainstream groups) condemn UN Human Rights Commissioner. I wonder where MN gets its news.

    I am a strong supporter of Anni & MDP. But I think it was very unhelpful and undemocratic for a UN official to say that she does not believe that we have a constitution and that she does not accept it (if it exists).

  7. Why such a hassle? UNHRC Pillay only called for a nationwide debate on flogging. The call was probably only on the government indirectly but the government policy on the call or issue itself is very clear: There will not be such a debate on the issue not because it is not a human rights concern but because it's a penalty prescribed in Islam. The human rights issue attached to it will remain the same and the international community will pursue compliance by member countries.

    The UNHRC by denouncing a Constitution in the Maldives went a step further to give a warning that even the Constitution will have to be amended, if necessary, for the prevention of such human rights abuses from being applied in this modern world.

  8. Anees, thats not all she called for, as another commentator has pointed out, she also said she does not believe maldives has a constitution, which is highly unprofessional and patronising of her. this has shifted the focus from the serious issue of discrimination and selective application of shariah on women in this country.

    ms pillay also said that maldivian women should be allowed to marry non-muslims.....i mean who is she to tell me who i should marry.....

    i am convinced she has an agenda other than womens rights now.....and i think the government is playing everybody.....

    i have no issues maldivians wishing to change the constitution, but there is a big problem if foreigners try to do that

    this is not even about maldivians, all this is purely for the benefit of foreigners who are already being given all our resources for 50 years to own them for 99 years

    people should wake up and smell the coffee....anni is the craftiest of all these polititions, all this drama is to paint everyone else as intolerant.

  9. and Yusuf, thank you for posting that, the insincerity and dhe bo geri duvvun tactics of this government never ceases to amaze me

  10. The application or enforcement of religious tenets such as this by the Maldives and other Muslim communities is inconsistant. This reflects the wish or the custom of the particular country or community. For example, there is only one case of amputation of the hand for theft, and it is never heard that anyone was stoned to death in the Maldives. Apparently, it is the influence of culture over Islam on the peoples and goernment of the Maldives not to insist on the application in the Malidves of amputation of hand for theft and stoning to death of an adulterer or execution of a murderer. Yet, these are also limits laid down in Islam no less in importance than the flogging enforced by Courts.

    What about other limits such as those mentioned here? Why should amputation and death by stoning or otherwise be spared for equally or severer crimes while flogging for fornication is not. Theft and murder affect the property or life of another but fornication and adultery affect the emotion of one or none.

    The PPM founder and former president of 30 years, Mr Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, spoke against capital punishment when he was the president. But now he through PPM stands for flogging as a limit under Allah's Law.

  11. This is why people should start questioning their MPs in public of their silence to this silly UN personal. Why not she go to Saudi and speak their against Saudi governments ban on women driving? Why concentrate towards a small nation like Maldives unless the Maldives government invited this speech. Just because Saudi dictator is an American buddy, they do don't speak out against Saudi. UN is an american tool. UN should be very careful when challenging the Laws of Allah (swt) in front of his slaves. Many politicians in this country might be effected with a western disease in their hearts to allow this big and insulting moves on Islam in our country, but the people of Maldives are smart and cannot be fooled by politicians or foreigners.

    People need to start educating their children to not trust their politicians words at face value. Nor foreigners be they have money or status. Maldives is going the wrong direction with the current Parliament and Government. MPs should have dragged her by her hair and thrown her out of the Parliament. We allow freedom of expression in public as different people have different views. But no one should dare come into any governmental institution like the parliament and speak against the Laws of our Creator who helps us every day with countless struggles we have in life. MPs should be blamed for allowing this to happen if they were given copies of what will be said. The same people who elected the MPs should now speak against them if they were amongst the muted ones. Allah (swt) will judge each one of us for what we do and for what we do not do. Fear Allah (swt) for no human should even think of questioning what is a clear Law of the Al Mighty!

  12. When the Maldives acceded to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the “Torture Convention”) on 20 April 2004, no reservation has been made by the Maldives and allowing flogging as torture under the Convention. The Maldives has made reservation to all human rights conventions, except the Torture Convention.

    When becoming party to a treaty, a state may formulate reservations, declarations and interpretative statements in order to limit its domestic application beyond what is permissible under the limitations referred to above under the The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT). The Maldives is also a party to (VCLT).

    Upon Accession/Ratification normally the Maldives made the following reservation:

    “The Government of the Republic of Maldives will comply with the provisions of the Convention, except those which the Government may consider contradictory to the principles of the Islamic Sharia upon which the laws and traditions of the Maldives is founded.

    Furthermore, the Republic of Maldives does not see itself bound by any provisions of the Convention which obliges to change its Constitution and laws in any manner. “

  13. Maldives on the road to be labelled as a male dominant, barbaric sadist lil speck. why cant we digest the facts? all of us are not all of u. tolerance and co-existing is more harmonious than an endless plight to fight against the modern world and its collective knowledge.

  14. Pillay has raised valid issues concerning human rights situation in this country.
    1) There's clear injustice in the current system where more than 80% of those flogged are women while the men involved walk free with a simple denial. Only Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus by the command of GOD without the semen of a man! Among Muslim countries only a few continue this type barbaric corporal punishment. Pregnancies outside the wedlock can be reduced by employing more civilized means.
    2) The rights of foreign workers are abused by the locals and are subject to exploitation by locals for economic benefits. Maldives is a major player ion human trafficking.
    3) While Maldivian men could marry women of other faiths, woman cannot. This is injustice.

    4) citizenship right should be given to those who meet certain criteria regardless of faith. The Maldives continue to deny on grounds that it may loose the fake title of "the only 100% Muslim country on earth".

    Thank you Pillay for initiating this wild debate!

  15. I suppose Maldivian journalist don’t understand spoken English and written English!
    Maybe the journalists are twisting a phrase so that the ignorant narrow-minded Maldivian makes confusion and pressure up the government.
    Dumb Maldivians keep in mind each and every person has right to practice their religion.
    You invite tourist to visit your country and make conditions saying that you cannot pray to your god in our country this is illogical.
    Maldivians your tourists are coming from civilised societies and they just ignore your barbaric acts, if they wish they can force you to build churches and temples in your resorts by just saying that the facilities they need includes place of worship than you will be forced to build churches and temples.
    There are about sixty thousand migrants who are deprived of their religion and what have you to say about their worship. Can you say to them that you have no right to pray to your god in our country? I don’t think so if you wont to in international community.
    The only answer to this is Maldives must get isolated and go backward to eleventh century.

  16. Ahmed Naish from minivan news is an anti-muslim propagandist.
    We should start declining to give interviews to him and not inviting him to any news briefings.

  17. Whether Maldivians like it or not we are a part of a larger population which is the world we live in. We eat the food that non-muslims grow, we drink water produced from technology made by non-muslims but lo and behold any person who says anything about islam even if it is something debatable. How many times do we hear our mllahs says islamic scholars disagree on some issue or another in islam. We accept that. Thinking peole shoud be aware of extremist thought and action in the name of islam that is being prepetrated is this country will ruin this country. People should must decide for themselves after considering all the facts without following blindly what press or some so called religious people precribe.

  18. The Haabee community is getting way ahead of themselves because they succeeded in blocking Hilath's blog.

    Ban UN? WE ARE PART OF UN! would you ban yourself?

    UN is an organisation of almost 200 countries. Would you ban all of them too?!

    idiots! I can't take maldivians stupidity anymore!

  19. Maldivian brothers - welcome to the REAL WORLD. Scared of it, despise it or hate it - you have no choice but to learn to adapt to civilised world and LIVE WITH THE REALITY.

  20. Why is the Islamic Foundation of Maldives claiming women have to be beaten to prevent gay marriage and homosexuality? The Republicans in the US can campaign against the gays without beating women!

  21. Ms Pillai is polite, she should have used stronger language as her message was lost. The bigoted fools rampaging around do not understand diplomatic speak.

    She was effectively saying that this country can't have it both ways, dependent on the "infidels", yet disparage them at every level; at the same time conveniently accepting the economic benefits of "haram" activities.

    The no. of votes Adaalath garnered and MPs they have at the Majlis is testament to their real support. So why keep our heads buried in the sand? Accept he fact that we are an Islamic society in name only.

    I don't see any of you losers protesting alcohol sales, or allowing fornication in resorts, I don't see you losers shunning this shut the fuck up and live and let live.

  22. Something very bizarre when people try to force shit on others, why people don’t like good thing to be forced. If flogging is to be applied generally on men, this religious hoo-ha’s will be compromised the same way like chopping of hands. “Mainly men are robbers so it can be compromised .” This all rubbish nonsense is only because the victims are women and in this so called barbaric Maldives, women are treated like dogs. They use them for their carnal drive and watch them beaten humiliated and enjoy. What a sadist morons. Their desire to uphold these sadists’ laws in the name of religion is the proof that they are psychopaths, without any conscience. These moron try to justify these barbaric action to eliminate social evil, like unwanted pregnancies, they don’t see that main actor in this so called sin is the men who get a free drive for his carnal nirvana and the poor women suffers like an animal. When anything that’s good to be done to women they are always half to men, when something bad to be delivered the women has to take full blow. What a nonsense….! If these Mullahs want to get rid of social evils, “what they think unwanted pregnancies”, do something to punish men who do trap innocent women and bring them to this sexual rollercoaster, automatically these sins will be stopped. The whole UN human rights call on banning flogging is not condoning prostitution; prostitution itself is against human rights. The question is when two human being with their consent engage in one of their carnal satisfaction and if the women get pregnant these Mullah have laws to flog these two individuals, but since they need four witnesses to prove that this sin was committed, it is always women who get this punishment because her case is proven, as she has already harvested their action. Mullahs can deceive only those ignorant people who think what they preach are from God even it is shit that anyone can see like daylight. The Human rights call is not legalizing sex out of wedlock; their call is to treat women equally, dumb mullahs….!. And those women in this maniac country are suffering from Stockholm syndrome

  23. This is all gas

    Pillay is the perfect naive lady brought to Maldives to say what a normal lawyer would never say in the Parliament. She created the necessary uproar. But there has to be a bigger story behind this 'cloud of gas'.

    Could Nav Pillay be controversy be the cover for the 25 dollar airport departure tax?

  24. we are on a clear path towards becoming a second Afghanistan during the Taliban ira..

  25. @Alibey - you rock!

    @peasant - you hit the bullseye!

    If you truly follow Allah's teaching - you should protest against allowing alcohol, pork; nudity and all other vices that happen in the resorts - in your country. Why hardly anyone voice out about it? Where are the NGO coalition?

    A bunch of politicians and NGO that only look into their interests and have no compassion of others.

  26. wow by reading all these comment i realized how uneducated we are, how brain washed we are by western.obviously your parents did a bad job on educating you.

    western don't realize how intolerance they are when they ask us to leave all our customs,traditions,religion and walk into their footsteps. we are Muslims and we believe in Allah and prophet (PBUH), we will live the way Quran taught us how to live. UN and western have to digest it.

  27. Gosh! I am a Westerner who just came across this piece. Goodness, I would never ask a religious person of any stripe to give up any of there customs, traditions, or religion. Where does the term "all" come from? The poster above me might educate themselves more about the West. It is not to much to ask this debate to be factual. I live in a big country and one fact I do note is .. Anyone gets painfully Flogged around here (for any reason) and the Flogger goes to jail.

  28. It just occurred .. Could the strictures of Islam not be served by a painless flogging? Use a soft strap. Islam might be served and there is no way it could be called torture. As well as community service, additional punishment might entail a public announcement. No doubt a flogging of sorts. I am just a man in a wheelchair and certainly could be mistaken about this but surely Islam asks the faithful to learn, to think and with in the faith, find the peaceful way.

  29. Wow, your country is an absolute ****hole by the sound of it, populated by backward religious idiots (one of those words is redundant there)

  30. @ Didi : wow by reading all these comment i realized how uneducated we are

    Wow, the level of your language and grammar has proven how educated you are!!

  31. @Richard.
    We muslims are not against debates. Let there be debate on religion and we are perfectly capable of presenting our views. As for the so called "Mullas", this is terminology coined by local athiests who cannot bear the mere thought of islam. Unlike in other western countries where athiests can stand muslims, here our athiest countrymen cannot stand anything islamic.

    So here is the position of muslims on some points you raised:
    Flogging,this is standard islamic sharia punismen for ppl who commit adultery first time(proven first time). IT applies to both, the male and the female. but unfortunately the males are gnerally so cowardly to own up their part in the crime and do not share the sacrifice with the female. so its a problem of the cowards rather than the system.
    As for flogging per se, this is revealed in Quruan and we do not give way on things in mentioned in Quruan. But let there be any amount of debate about it! Islamic sharia punishments are generally perceived to be harsher, but if one reflect on it, its actually better than other punishments. for eg, in islamic sharia the drug user will be lashed 40 or 80 or 100 times in public and be sent home. Do it twice or thrice, he still will get the same punishment. This is better than imprisoning him and maintaining him with public money for numbers of years. Same goes to theft. IF its proven and if its serious enough, the hand of the culprit is cut and he is sent to his world with liberty... BUt remember this. ITs very very difficult to prove real guilt in islamic sharia and when guilt is established,punishment is swift and fair. If you or a loved one of you is raped then you will want your aggressor to recieve strong exemplary punishment which is exactly what islamic sharia delivers. Effective detterent.

  32. In Muslim countries, the evil act of Shirai law is justified by the geopolitics of western counties, if Israel violates human rights while fighting their enemies, so that mean it is OK for Sharia Law to violate human rights with own people. If America attacked other Muslim country, it is nothing wrong when executing Sharia Law, to stone own people. IF America has death sentence, what is wrong if Sharia Law condones death sentence. We are talking about all evil things and must be decided from our conscience. not by judging what America does. Does this means America is God today. The God of Shairal Law is justified by evil America. What cooks up Muslims brain is beyond imagination. Who believes Sharia are law is divine law?. Some nuts will believe this is an order from god. A god who they say, beneficiary of universe, is so vulnerable and ignorant that he has to appoint some mullahs to run his court of law with some silly Pinal codes. Please don’t advocate Sharia Law is from the creator of universe. If this supreme law is applied to the world, we all will be condemned to subhuman and our brains will be seized to apes level.

  33. If Maldives likes to follow Sharia laws then why allow foreign tourists wearing bikinis to roam its beaches ? Dual standards and totally hypocrites...

  34. STeve JAmes

    Barbaric? Did you said that?
    Ok imagine how helpless you will feel if your wife or daughter was raped and the justice system in your country just gives the rapist a few years behind bars? Don't be so civilized and cool and uncaring so as to beyond the human capacity to get angry. You will get angry and yet you will be helpless. you will wish to kill the b----d yourself in most sadistic fashion. And there is nothing wrong with that either. you are human just like us , the barbaric muslims. so in islamic sharia we are giving exacting punishments not for innocent, but for guilty ppl. dangerous ppl who need to be sent to their maker for upgrades... understand?

  35. If you truly follow Allah’s teaching – you should protest against allowing alcohol, pork; nudity and all other vices that happen in the resorts – in your country. Why hardly anyone voice out about it? Where are the NGO coalition?

    A bunch of politicians and NGO that only look into their interests and have no compassion of others.


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