Police thwart removal of alleged Christian imagery on SAARC posters at airport

Several members of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), including some MPs, were arrested last night after forcing a dhoni to take them to Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) where they intended to take down SAARC banners allegedly featuring Christian and other religious imagery.

“The police received information that people had tried to get to the airport using force,” said Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam. “The dhoni owner said he refused to take them but that they attacked him and made him go to the airport,” he said.

The individuals were detained at Dhoonidhoo last night. Some have been released while others are being held in custody.

PPM MP Ahmed Mahloof was released at 1:30am this morning. He said the act was organised by several friends and was not attached to PPM.

“It was not a violent or political act,” Mahloof claimed. “We each paid Rf10 for the airport ferry, maybe the dhoni owner got nervous when the police came because about ten people on the ferry were yelling at him to keep going because they had to get to the airport, so he told the police he had been attacked.

“All we said was that they had violated our right to move freely,” said Mahloof, adding that the interaction between those arrested and the police was peaceful. “The police trust the opposition, as does the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), because they do not support the President. They told us that we would have to be arrested, and we agreed to cooperate.”

Shiyam said that “with SAARC, the security is very high right now, so we are using a very quick and strong response to this issue.”

Police also took action against Mohamed ‘Wadde’ Waheed, lawyer for former president and current PPM leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who was found walking around Dhoonidhoo island without approval after last night’s arrests.

“Being a lawyer he must have known about the procedures to get onto Dhoonidhoo,” said Shiyam.

Wadde, who was discovered to have arrived on the island via speedboat, was sent back to Male’ for interrogation. He was not arrested, but did not respond to Minivan’s inquiries.

The banners at INIA are part of a series created by local company Mooinc Pvt Ltd for the SAARC summit under the theme ‘Building Bridges’. They are also in display in Fuvamulah and Addu City, where the summit is currently being held.

Mooinc Creative Director Ali Saeed said the designs were based on five themes approved by the cabinet to depict the culture and religion of the eight SAARC nations, which cumulatively practice 10 religions.

Under Religious Unity Regulations published by the government in September, it is illegal to propagate any other religion other than Islam, to carry or display in public books on religions other than Islam, and the translation into Dhivehi language such books and writings on other religions. Proselytising by foreigners remains punishable by deportation.

The regulations interpret the Religious Unity Act passed by parliament in 1994, which carries a 2-5 year prison sentence for its violation.

Mahloof confirmed that the group’s goal was to remove the banners at the airport.

“Our constitution makes it very clear that no other religions are to be displayed in our society because we are a 100 percent Muslim society,” he said, claiming that the government’s approval of the banners for the purposes of an international event surpassed necessary diplomatic etiquette.

“I don’t think the other heads of state were expecting to see their religions shown when they came here. They know that we are Muslim. I have had the opportunity to travel abroad and meet with delegates, and I never expected those countries to have mosques if they weren’t officially Muslim just to show support,” said Mahloof.

Mahloof emphasised that members of all religions are welcome in the Maldives. “It’s not that we are opposed to other religions. Their members are very welcome, we would never support the kinds of attacks that take place elsewhere. But I believe other countries respect our decision to be Muslim, and there’s no need to show so much support for other faiths. I’m sure everyone will be respected in turn,” he said.

Mahloof added that tourists have steadily come through the Maldives without complaining about a lack of Buddhist or Christian displays. He said the banners are not a threat, but rather represent a loosening religious structure.

“My concern is this: since Nasheed came to power we have seen slowly the breaking of the pillars of Islam, making holes to open doors for other faiths. Being a Maldivian, and a young person, I wouldn’t want to see other religions here. If other religions were allowed into the Maldives, I’m sure we would see more terrorist attacks and the kind of violence that is happening elsewhere. Already families don’t talk to each other just from the political changes. If Nasheed tries to bring in other religions, things will go from bad to worse.”

Speaking for PPM, Mahloof said there was suspicion that the current government is making private deals to bring in other religions. “But I believe other countries respect our decision,” he reiterated.

The SAARC summit has tempered what Mahloof said is rising frustration among Maldivian people. “PPM made an agreement yesterday not to do anything during SAARC,” he said. “I’m sure after the summit there will be protests and huge crowds in the streets.”

Mahloof, who has been arrested twice, said “we will take the steps we should with the authorities, appearing before the Human Rights Commission and the Police Integrity Commission” to discuss their arrest.

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30 thoughts on “Police thwart removal of alleged Christian imagery on SAARC posters at airport”

  1. Keep up the good work, my boy.

    You will be rewarded when I or a member of my family becomes president in 2013.

    Yes, I will give you, from the state funds - of course, more US dollars to go abroad to get massages. Like I gave you when I was in power. Also more lands to your family members like I gave to your parents.

    So don't let me down and don't let this government take a breath in anything they do. USE the name of ISLAM in every excuse like I did. It did serve me well in the 30 years to con and mind-control these IDIOT civilians who I didn't properly educate (and that's deliberately). HAHA

    HEHE

    Also write against these Minivan News people saying that they're from Christian missionaries. HAHA The FOOLS will believe.

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  2. Is it just me, or does anyone else feel well and truly disgusted about people like this being our elected representatives?

    How totally bigoted, or how totally ignorant, can this Mahloof and his ilk be? How does one go about getting these people out of parliament, and as far away from leadership positions in our society as possible?

    The SAARC Summit is not being hosted by Anni, or MDP, it is being hosted by the Maldivian people. Never was this organization, whatever its shortcomings, the personal property of any of the leaders that attend or play host to the summits.

    Committing acts of piracy like Jack Sparrow on acid, tearing down to an airport---an airport (!) at a time when we are responsible for the security of eight world leaders because THERE IS A LINE-DRAWING OF JESUS hanging from the sky…what the hell does this prove??

    That MDP is sh*t? That magenta is the new yellow/blue? That no other Muslim is quite as Muslim as the Maldivian Muslim? That there’s no opposition as strong as a group of macho men shouting themselves hoarse to mask the silence of their empty brains?

    Please tell me we are not all like this, that the majority of us haven’t quite stooped this low just yet.

    If we haven’t, we all have to get together and find a way to force these people out, to stop them from speaking and acting in our name.

    Mahloof should be in a correctional facility for juvenile delinquents, not the parliament.

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  3. What Mahloaf forgets to mention here is that its his Grand Spa Papa who brought Christianity to this country.

    Mahloaf relax your Grand Spa Papa will always be the "Father of Christianity" in Maldives.

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  4. a bad news report from an under qualified "journalist".
    so many errors, repititions & omissions.
    the report made no mention that journalists covering the event were also arrested and detained.

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  5. Please add piracy and hijacking to Maumoon's thug crime list.

    Along with extortion, theft, state-terrorism, etc...

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  6. Mahloof Eat your heart out dear boy. 17th saarc summit is a success and pride of every sensible Maldivian. you of course don't belong among the sane and sensible. You belong in some land over yonder where people with no brains live.

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  7. “My concern is this: since Nasheed came to power we have seen slowly the breaking of the pillars of Islam, making holes to open doors for other faiths. Being a Maldivian, and a young person, I wouldn’t want to see other religions here. If other religions were allowed into the Maldives, I’m sure we would see more terrorist attacks and the kind of violence that is happening elsewhere. Already families don’t talk to each other just from the political changes. If Nasheed tries to bring in other religions, things will go from bad to worse.”

    This young chap fails to realize that over 90% of the terrorist attacks worldwide are derived from extreme/radical islamists...

    I think it would be a great idea for Maldives to allow freedom of religion. It would give the Maldives the much needed diversity that it needs. Believe it or not there are many Christian, Atheists, Hindu and other religions that are quietly active in the Maldives... it shouldn't be a crime.

    God Bless 🙂

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  8. "If other religions were allowed into the Maldives, I’m sure we would see more terrorist attacks and the kind of violence that is happening elsewhere"

    I am wondering if Mahloof can tell us clearly where is the "elsewhere" he mentioned?
    ...Afghan or Iran who are seriously inflicted with violence and crimes even without allowing other religions into their homelands. Both countries are also facing drug epidemic.

    http://www.thefix.com/content/joseph-braude-interview

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102984398

    http://lightbox.time.com/2011/05/03/the-lost-souls-of-kabul-photographs-by-james-nachtwey/#1

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  9. this is the reason y they did it.. those who commented above have been brain washed... U guys will say its ok even there are churches and temples as long as Maldivians dont worship .. later when Maldivians convert to another religion and start worshiping then you guys will say its ok as long as you are not..

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  10. good ab crist and jesus- pece b upon him

    http://www.salaf.mv/contents/bayaan/2011_11_08.pdf

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  11. the current regimes plot to introduce freedom of apostacy will not succeed in maldives.
    i salute the brave heros who attempted to go to the airport to remove something which were clearly against the maldivian constitution and rules and regulation.
    our struggle will continue. we will come out against the landing of zionist planes and the planned 'freedom of religion' summit next year, where people like salman rushdi may participate.
    we are confident of our strength and power in our homeland.
    if this apostacy project continues we will not stop till we root out this nasheed regime.

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  12. can the writer please explain why an image of christ is an ALLEGED christian imagery?

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  13. Hey, Fahloof, I think I see Prophet Moses too, in the poster.

    Also I think the other person I see in the poster maybe Prophet David (yeah, my gut says so.)

    And who just maybe the other one? Hmmm, yeah, maybe it maybe Prophet Joseph. Yeah, maybe my gut feels so.

    SO I (The Great self claimed world TOP ISLAMIST - Islamico-Psyscho-Maldiviani) HEREBY STRONGLY CONDEMN THIS POSTER. IT IS A TOTAL DISGRACE TO all the MUSLIMS of the UNIVERSE AND IS PUTTING 'CRACKS' on the walls of THE HOLY ISLAMIC CASTLE. Let's bring down those infidel people of the Yellow Party. HAHA. HEHE. 😛

    PS: Also this thing is cracking the cracks of the SUPREME and JUST clan who reign in this country for more than 30 years and TOTALLY CONDUCTED everything to ISLAM.

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  14. And my declaration and concern is without any POLITICAL agenda whatsoever. 😉

    HEHE

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  15. Who is Mahlouf kidding when he says his actions are not politically related?
    It looks like the PPM doesnt have anything else but the religion card to play to compete with the MDP led government.Getting desperate, are we?

    But does Mahlouf really think that we the people do not see the mosques that have been overflowing since this government took over?That we do not see the expansion of Islamic education in the country through the freedom of expression this government has given to our people? that we do not see see the phenomenal increase in zakaath paid by our people and mudhalu zakaath paid by our rich since President Nasheed took over as President? That we do not see the transformation of the month of Raml’aan in Male and other islands since Presdient Nasheed came to power, with thousands and thousands of people faithfully observing tharaavees prayers in the mosques and at home? Mahlouf must think the people of the Maldives are ignorant blind and deaf.

    Mahlouf should be afraid, very afraid. He appears to have forgotten that Allah denounces falsehood, greed, hypocrisy, and abuse of power. He appears to have forgotten that Allah sees it all and hears it all and that Mahlouf cannot escape retribution on Judgement Day.
    I am clear that a Muslim cannot support a man like Gayoom who has without remorse, without conscience, violated the trust of his people by looting our treasury, awarding the wealth of the country tohimself , his family and those he favoured, , violated our rights as human beings, stood by as the drug industry and drug lords of Maldives fragmented our families and communities and took the lives of our youth, systematically disempowered the people in the atolls by centralising all power, services, and amenities in Male and took away hope pride and dignity, knowledge from our youth with the pathetic pretensions of what he called an education system.

    Mahlouf should take some time out to look into his soul and get straight whether his God is Allah or Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. It is clear to me that no son of Allah who believes in Allah and the chosen path, Islam, can act and speak as he does. If Mahlouf really believes in the presence of Allah, and the religion he speaks so passionately about, he will be working for truth, for justice, for peace. I don’t see him doing this.

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  16. Comments on Minivan are not a true reflection of the Maldivian masses.

    The larger Maldivian population are not interested in English language material and cannot criticize nor analyze such documents.

    That considerable majority does not support the introduction of religious pluralism to the country. A change may be brought to this attitude over time but certainly not overnight. If the educated elite including young school-leavers who are free enough to participate in online discussions take a confrontational attitude towards the majority of the Maldivian people then this situation will only worsen.

    However, Mahloof et. al. only wanted to make some headlines and so they have. While such headlines would not be received well in certain circles, they would be welcomed in others.

    Quod Erat Demonstrandum 😛

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  17. Subuhaanallah.. Maruvaane kan neygi thibe kaleymeh konme fadha echeh ves kiyaafaanan dho.. Easa ge faanuge soora eyee kurehey echeh nooney... hama antharees vejje mi comment thah kiyaafa.. mikan huttuvan aharenves dhen minikunnanee.. kurin buni addu budhu behetteema kobaahey massala akee.. mihaaru behettithaa iruthakeh nuve eothee dhonkeylaa maa bahattaafa.. adhives ok dho

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  18. I see many bigots. In 2007 Landaa Giraavaru hosted a private event at the resort. A budda image was used for this birthday bash of millionaire. MDP used this as a weapon for their campaign into power. Today we see that the same people do not see any issues whatsoever with other imagery related to religion as an issue. WTF!

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  19. they are using Islam to achieve their own political aims; which is wrong. but its a sign of times.

    A sign of times of the last days is when people will elect ignorant leaders to lead them, which is what has happened in majlis and local councils. so just as before, these people just hijacked islam to further their own agendas.
    shame!

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  20. Hope someone will post on walls the pictures of Gayoom wearing the Grand Cross and see what PPM does.

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  21. It was a terrible mistake on those who elected this young immature boy into parliament. It's not the first time Mahlouf has spoken sheer nonsense. It's better we pay less attention to his rhetorics and look at the core issue.

    No one can enforce religion on another, and no country can change the faith of any other country. Maldives is and will remain a 100% Muslim country by deed or name. We shouldn't deny the fact that we have good muslims and bad muslims in our midst, but still we remain muslims. It is not moral to speak negative and tarnish the beliefs of other faiths when some prominent people from all political parties, including Mahlouf, pretend to be staunch muslims yet they do exactly what islam prohibits. Alcohol and drug consumption, teenage sex craze, child abuse, corruption, murder are a few of what is happening today in Maldives. How would Maldives suffer by having a piece of cloth with art (NOT ACCEPTABLE) hanged in an airport, if compared to having a full stocked bar in Addu accessible by anyone above 18 years?

    Mooinc is a business company that is interested in money just like all other companies. They can design anything you want if you pay the price.

    Under no circumstance does anyone have a right RE DRAW or RE SHAPE images, idols, artifacts used by any religion. It is immoral, irresponsible and absolutely stupid to create art that tempers with a belief. For instance you cannot take the head of jesus attached to the idol body of a six hand hindu god with a budhhas feet and a monks moustache!!

    We must have the decency to respect other religions especially when they have never harmed us in anyway. Shame on the cabinet for approving such art. As for Moooinc, it is a blunder in your professionalism that simply depicts your lack of respect and value to what you do.

    We need not fear loosing our status as a Muslim country. We should fear having our mosques empty in the next few decades as our children gradually get drowned in the new religion and virus well known as INTERNET TECHNOLOGY!

    We all depend on IT for everything from the time we wake up to the time we sleep. Actually we all worship IT and believe me or not, its an addiction!

    Just look around you and you would see an addict..

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  22. Go Mooinc go! Well done to your efforts to bring tolerance to this xenophobic society full of people like Mahlouf! Golha mihaaru hunnaane dhaiy kundi vikifa! All this comes from him not being able to play the lead role at the SAARC Summit! Too late Golha....go home!

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  23. this issue is more complex....while the previous regime put a blind eye to the import of a large quantity of budhdhas (mwant for entertainment, which is a mockery in itself to the people of that faith, the previous government did stand up for women's rights. maumoon himself stood up for women on numerous occassions, including viewing his opinions on burga not being mandatory.
    this government has installed a ministry of religous affairs, and is seen to endorse hardline stands on women and children. women's mosques, which women themselves build have been dismissed and women have been told that its better to pray in their homes or a small side aisle have been allocated to them from larger men's mosques; narrowing their private space and rights to practice their faith in the public domain. this government is playing a dangerous game, while appearing to be liberal; but encouraging fundamentalism on the one hand and anarchy on the other. some of the behaviour of high profile mdp officials both in male and abroad also appears that it is not really liberal values, but rather hedonism that they are trying to introduce

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