Protesters calling for religious tolerance attacked with stones, threatened with death

Police are investigating a violent attack on a ‘silent protest’ calling for religious tolerance, held at the Artificial Beach to mark Human Rights Day.

Witnesses said a group of men threw rocks at the 15-30 demonstrators, calling out threats and vowing to kill them.

One witness who took photos of the attacked said he was “threatened with death if these pictures were leaked. He said we should never been seen in the streets or we will be sorry.”

Among those injured in the attack was Ismail ‘Khilath’ Rasheed, a controverisal blogger whose website was recently blocked by the Communications Authority of the Maldives (CAM) on the order of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

Rasheed suffered a head injury and was rushed to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH).

“They started hitting us with bricks. They were aiming at our heads – we could tell they were serious and wanted to kill us,” Rasheed told Minivan News from hospital. “I was taken on a motorcycle to IGMH, but I could see them behind me still hitting my friends.”

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said police attended the scene after the attackers had departed, and were currently investigating the cause of the violence. No arrests had yet been made, he added.

The protesters, calling themselves ‘Silent Solidarity’, had earlier issued a press release stating that their intention was to “make the Maldives and the international community aware of the rising religious intolerance in the Maldives, and to condemn the Constitutionally endorsed suppression of religious freedom. We also denounce the increasing use being made of Islam as a tool of political power.”

“Silent Solidarity will be protesting against discrimination of all races, gender, sexual preferences and religious beliefs and supporting freedom of thought and expression. In our silence, we speak volumes,” the group’s statement said.

The Maldives has come under increasing international scrutiny following an apparent rise in religious intolerance.

Several monuments gifted to the Maldives by other SAARC countries during the recent summit in Addu have been defaced or stolen on the grounds that they are idolatrous. Islamic Minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari has condemned the monuments while the opposition has hailed the vandals as “national heroes”.

Protests also erupted last month after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay spoke in parliament calling for the government and the judiciary to issue a moratorium and debate on flogging as a punishment for extra-marital sex.

“This practice 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,” Pillay said.

“The issue needs to be examined, and therefore I called for a countrywide discussion. It is much better if the issue is transparent and debated.”

Pillay also stated that requirement under the Maldivian constitution that all Maldivians be Muslim ”is discriminatory, and does not comply with international standards. I would urge a debate again on the issue to open up entrance of the constitution to all.”

Challenged by a local journalist that the Maldives was both obliged to protect the religion of Islam, she replied: “You have a constitution which conforms in many respects to universal human rights. Let me assure you that these human rights conform with Islam.”

She added that the Maldives had signed international treaties that are legally-binding obligations, “and such a practice conflicts with these obligations undertaken by the Maldives.”

The following day protesters gathered outside the UN building, carrying placards stating “Islam is not a toy”, “Ban UN” and “Flog Pillay”, and called on authorities to arrest the UN High Commissioner.

MPs roundly condemned Pillay’s statements.

‘”What we should be worried about holding discussions against the fundamentals of Islam in a 100 percent Muslim country such as the Maldives is that we may start questioning about worshipping God Almighty tomorrow,” said opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Dr Afrashim Ali.

Ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed said the Maldives “will never ever open doors for religions other than Islam in the Maldives. We’ll not give the opportunity to speak against the fundamentals and principles of Islam in the parliament.”

MP Riyaz Rasheed, from the opposition-aligen Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) condemned the Speaker Abdulla Shahid from allowing Pillay to complete her address.

“There is a good chance for us to directly say that Abdulla Shahid has made a good deal with this government to wipe out the religion of Islam from this country,” MP Rasheed said.

President Mohamed Nasheed has meanwhile said that Maldivians “should have the self-belief and resolve not to have our faith shaken by listening to statements or opinions expressed by others.”

“That the punishments and rulings of Islamic Sharia are not inhumane is very clear to us,” Nasheed said. “We have the opportunity to show the whole world how noble and civilised Sharia is. That is because we are the only Islamic nation with a democratically-elected government.

“Wasting that opportunity in a Jihadi spirit” with the claim of “defending Islam” was unacceptable, Nasheed said. “Opposition parties will always attack us by using religion as a weapon. [But] I believe that this country is the only Islamic nation where Islamic Sharia has been practiced uninterrupted for 700 years.”

Religious sentiment in the Maldives can often be vocal and heated, but has rarely led to physical violence.

In late May 2010, well-known Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik visited the Maldives and delivered a sermon in the capital Male’. During a question-and-answer session 37 year-old Mohamed Nazim stood up and declared himself “Maldivian and not a Muslim”.

Nazim’s declaration angered the 11,000 strong crowd, and he was escorted from the venue by police and officials from the Ministry of Islamic Affairs amid calls for his execution.

After two days of religious counselling in police custody, Nazim appeared before television cameras at an Islamic Ministry press conference and gave Shahada – the Muslim testimony of belief – and apologised for causing “agony for the Maldivian people” and requested that the community accept him back into society.

In July 2010, 25 year-old air traffic controller Ismail Mohamed Didi was found hanged from the control tower of Male’ International Airport in an apparent suicide, after seeking asylum in the UK for fear of persecution over his stated lack of religious belief.

“Maldivians are proud of their religious homogeneity and I am learning the hard way that there is no place for non-Muslim Maldivians in this society,” Didi wrote in a letter to an international humanitarian organisation, prior to his death.


105 thoughts on “Protesters calling for religious tolerance attacked with stones, threatened with death”

  1. i support freedom of religion
    anyone who says its unconstitutional is fighting against islam

    maldives should try honesty for once

  2. we are not trying to convert or bring in another religion into Maldives, we simply want to be free from islam, and not call our self muslims, me personally disregard religions. i believe all religions are fabrication of mankind.

    we just want our space. we have the right to live in the country we were bo0rn into, and as individuals we have the right to freedom of thoughts.

    again. we are not trying to introduce religions into Maldives, but simply leave islam and be non muslims.

    we are not looking for violence but a peaceful solution that we all can agree on to live together as Maldivians.

    why is it so hard when in male we have people of different religions, and we work together, why cant non muslim Maldivians be treated the same?

    this is the 21st century, lets live up to it and let stone age ideology be a thing of the past.

  3. @ dave.

    pls do us a favor and dont come here! like we dont give a damn abt you....who cares if u come here or not....its better if u dont come here

  4. MDP is dumb or what - this is just political suicide for them... they should respect democracy and learn what the majority wants - i.e. if they want to win in 2013

  5. this movement has nothing to do with MDP so stop trying to make this about your political game, this is the movement of the minority of Maldives, the Apostates.

    this is not a political agenda!! STOP TRYING TO DIVERT THIS WHOLE THING!!

    this is about the few brave people who are strong enough to stand for whats right.

  6. signs of end of the world. this is an example in Maldives.

    to all atheists, make sure you change your names than using names of our holy prophets. Its a shame.

  7. Arabic is just another language, and we will be more than happy to change our names.

    and we would be more than happy to remove our head count from the islamic population, and also to remove the 100% islam statues this country so wrongfully uphold. just let us leave, no violence. please

  8. hilath is a mentally challenged kid,we all know that. we shouldn't care about what he do, we have a tolerance community and till now we are living in peace. lets keep it this way.when you are fighting for religious freedom i wonder how many Christian or Hindu's follow there religion truly. these people using religion as a tool to make violence in peaceful communities.

  9. Saahda. If the Indian Ocean rises a few more feet then there will be no more Maldives to visit:)

  10. Let’s think fairly, religion is not something that we are born with it. We are born with flesh and bones we all share. Religion is just like our cloths that we put on to individuals liking. People who are attached with a religion for generations it becomes part of their psyche and becomes an emotional attachment like love. Is religion good? If religion is good thing it should unite human being, but we see religion divides people and is the source of all evil thing we see today. If any one religion is good why all are not following that religion, are human being are so dumb they can’t identify one good religion and everyone follows it. Why do we have to be so fanatic about something that does not do any good to us? It only destroys us by creating division, hatred and all envies. If someone has the ability to justify religions with critical mindset who do not want follow something blindly, why others are so mad about him because he is different and has courage to detach from his emotional bondage?. Anyone who cannot see a very simple logic as this probably is not a fully evolved human being. Are Maldivian are not fully eve loved. It is shame to be Maldivian.

  11. steve

    it could happen to your country too. if a asteroid hit earth all us will be dead. so shut up. don't try to create violence in our country go back to where your from.

  12. @steve

    You know anything could can happen to anyone or any place.. We have faith in our god... Our god will protect us. So we're not least bit worried abt ocean rising, global warming or any of those bullshit that you guys tok abt (which you have no clue of)

  13. look if you want us non-muslims to leave the country we will be most happy to, but keep in mind that not everyone of has the money or the means to just up and leave... so here is what i propose... provide us all with tickets and safe (and i can't stress enough the word) SAFE passage out of the country without any hate or animosity toward us, we shall leave with a smile on our face and that's a promise.

  14. Its amazing that in cases like this the religious fanatics and their supporters shout saying that this is against our constitution. When it suits them constitution is higher then religion and when it suits them its religion that is higher than the constitution. Islam does allow freedom of religion and our constitution is completely against this aspect of our religion.
    We should not let our country and our religion be hijacked by a bunch of radicals, Maldives should have room for all Maldivians.
    Its a pity that the way this country is going we do not even have room for freedom to practise our own religion the way we want. Wahabism is constantly pushed down our throats as the only way to practice Islam. I urge the government to do something about these brainwashed fanatics.

  15. Global warming Climate change - whatever you call it - come soon and drown these freak camel riders!

  16. should have killed these people.. We would never allow any other religion to be practiced in Maldives.. We always want to remain as 100% Muslims .. We will respect other religions..

  17. I think we have all been too over reacting to this issue: The Hilath and his fellow protesters, the people who opposed him and his attackers and our fellow commentators here.
    First I don't believe Hilath chosed the right approach to bring out his concerns. His religious freedom concerns could have been brought out in a more peaceful way. Instead of shouting his guts out on artificial beach, he could have decided to meet in peace with the president and the religious scholars in the country for a dialogue regarding this issue.
    For the attackers of hilath, I have to say Islam was never a religion of force and fear. Islam was always tolerant and peaceful and infact the main reason why islam was spread was due to its tolerance and beautiful teaching. If you feel there shouldn't be any other religion in Maldives other than islam, you should prove it to your fellow citizens by respective teachings, hidhaayath, counselling, actions etc etc. Throwing stones at their heads will never make them come to your sides. Prophet Muhammad never forced islam on anyone, infact the little boy who made him tea everyday was a jewish boy and he himself got married to a jewish and a christian lady too. He spread islam by dawa and its peaceful teachings. This is what our people should adopt. As for the commentators here I have to say all you guys are doing is just spraying pepper on a bleeding wound. Theres a lot of hatred from you guys coming out regarding this issue. Both from those with and against this issue. It might be better if we all talk about how can we look for things common between us. I am not saying we should allow hilath have what he wants, but can we stop him from changing his belief? We have aonly two options as to how to deal with him. Either give him his freedom which is is seeking or either prove him that our belief is better than what he is believing. And for the latter, you do not need stones, you need guidance, respect, dawa and intelectuals. And in both options, we have to show him respect as long as he doesnt cross limits, eg: going kufr or say something which humiliates our prophet, our family or our livestocks. Just because he wants a religious freedom doesnt mean we should kill him. He is after all a human and in the Quran it says any one who kills a human has killed the whole of humanity. Their are many muslim countries where people of different religious beliefs are living in harmony and together, if Maldives doesnt want to be one of them, it has to first find out how this could be achieved. And it can never be achived by force, fear and violence.

  18. Suja

    You contradict yourself. Also, this event has nothing to do with MDP. That's just a label used by the opposition to blame everything on the government to gain more support. Our numbers are growing, and this is just the beginning. We can live side by side, as long as we can tolerate each other. But looks like the mullahs apparently can't do that.

  19. The organisers of this event knew full well the reaction they were going to get. This was a deliberate attempt at bringing out the fanatics on to the streets once again. I believe the whole purpose of this protest was exactly to bring out the reaction they got. Now, they can say to the world how intolerant Maldivians are.

    To be honest, most Maldivians really don't care about Hilath and his mates. They can eat pork sandwiches and drink wine all day. Who gives a rats arse? However, Hilath and co aren't happy with that. They want to make this into a political game and play it out like that. I'm warning that this will get more and more nasty.

    I am 100% sure that, for the forseeable future, the Maldivian Consitution will not change one bit regarding the status of Islam in the country no matter how badly some want to change that. That change may happen at some unspecified future date, but not in our lifetime. This is not just crystal ball gazing. Let's look at the facts.

    We have enough difficulty tolerating people with different ideas, such as different political views and different views within the same religion of Islam. We have daily occurrences of verbal and physical violence towards people expressing different political views. Within this climate, how would you expect different religions to co-exist? Impossible.

    Lastly, there seem to be an obsession about "religious intolerance" of Maldivians. Truth is that Maldivians are intolerant to almost anything! They cannot stand someone expressing a different opinion on any subject matter! Again, this shouldn't be too much of a surprise given that the vast majority of Maldivians grow up and die within the confines of an area less than a square mile. Throughout history, we have been a hostile and intolerant group of people and are known for our lack of emotion etc. This is a sociological issue and I'd argue that the first large scale research project by the Maldivian National University should be on this very subject of sociology and the "Tolerance of the Maldivian"!

  20. I would request Indira NewDelhi to practice your so called "religion" in india and not in Maldives.I personally dont care whether all the maldivians are sent back to Maldives. we are not going to loose beggers only wil suffer.We will not let you guys to practice your religion in our motherland

  21. You can declare all you want that Maldives is a 100% Muslim country, but you already know for a fact that it is false. There is a significant minority of atheists and agnostics here. There are a few Buddhists and Christians too.

    If forced we will be silent about our apostasy. However that doesn't mean we won't be spreading our ideas. Our ideas are already spreading through the country. In a generation or two it will be the Muslims who will be the minority here. And then, you will find the value of tolerance and secularism, just like all minority Muslim populations.

  22. For all those people who has forgotten what Islam is,

    The word 'Islam' means, voluntary submission to God.. voluntary! By writing in the constitution that all Maldivians have to be Muslims does not make it voluntary. By telling children they will go to hell for not abiding by the 5 pillars and not explaining to them why is not voluntary. By silencing those of whom you cannot answer the questions is not voluntary.

    Name one instance in history the Prophet (PBUH) forced His people to listen, threw rocks at the disbelievers, threatened them to believe Islam.

    Islam is not a religion of compulsion. It is a religion of peace, of forgiveness, of love, of care, of humanity, of tolerance. Where have these gone? These words are just words now, no one truly seems to understand the power of them.

    There is a reason why the word 'PEACE' was derived from Arab, look up the meaning sometime.

    Yours sincerely,

  23. Dear Eiliyah, You have said all that I have wanted to say already. Why is it that all most all maldivian people are terrorist minded and cannot think rationally? why cant you just mind your own business!

  24. Kill him. Kill them all. Kill all apostates!!

    This is Maldives. I want to take the country with me to Heaven. I want all the palm trees and the beaches in Heaven. Including the Tunas and mushimas. But I dont want the beardees though. They will not allow me to enjoy the 72 virgins. They will steal 4 times of virgins too!

    By voicing against the religion, we will incur yet another wrath from God. The last Tsunami happened in Indonesia, was due to scantily clothed women on the beaches of Reethi Rah Island. Arabians mullahs told us that!

    I fear for the wrath of God, if anyone says 'Freedom of Religion' on Maldivian Soil. You see God has a thing for Maldives. Anyone can say anything on any other land and God would not care, but not here in Maldives. He will rip us apart!!!

  25. Freedom to choose one's own religions conviction is a fundamental human right.In Maldives, in America, Saudi Arabia or even Mars is should be the same. Tolerance and respect towards one another is the key to peace and progress. History has shown it to us. Humanity will ultimately learn to accept this fact. Love shall win over hate. Freedom shall overrun oppression. So stop wasting your time fighting and shedding blood. Find your own heaven without gutting others. Accept to one another as a human being rather than labeling by race, religions etc.

  26. We will never allow any other religion than islam to be prevailed on our soil... if you wannna do that go over our dead bodies... i am 100% sure this will be every Maldivians decision. (so to hell with the 10 to 15 Atheists here....)

  27. Here is a question to the in-three-years-know-it-all lawyers of the Maldives. If a Maldivian leaves the religion of Islam, what happens first? Does he relinquish his citizenship before or after he receives the punishment. If the act of apostasy automatically makes the person a non-citizen, how can the state punish a non-citizen for practising other religions. OK he is now in Maldives illegally. But good luck finding a place to deport them to...

  28. The Mullahs are raving in mosque and spreading hate massages against other religions.
    Maldives state run media too spreading hate massages against other religion.
    What a creepy religion is Islam and what creepy god is Allah who needs mortal thugs to protect his so called the only true religion.

  29. I am just sick of those calling fr religious freedom. We have the freedom of religion; that is the righteous religion of Islam.

  30. ironic how parallel this is to those stories about prophets & their followers. Hilath, deliver us from these intolerant people who turn their backs on your message. Rising sea levels, failing economy, soaring crime rates will be the doom they rightfully deserve. We have seen your messages of impending doom on flickR. Amen!

  31. To all the people who keep parroting "democracy = majority rules": THAT'S NOT THE WAY A DEMOCRACY WORKS! I've had it with you people!


    Maldives is by definition NOT a democracy. We call ourselves a democracy so we will fit in with the international community, but you're not fooling anybody. In practice, maldives is a full blown theocracy.

    If you don't know what you're talking about, just shut up!

  32. These 15 to 30 protestors are my heroes.

    The violent repression of innocence should cause pain to any human being with a heart.

    The pain of these heroes shall produce the fruit of change.

  33. @varah nubai, just to back up your statement.

    Democacy, two Greek words, Demo (People) and Cracy (Power), rule for and by the people. In Greek demcracy it was rule DIRECTLY by the people, which actually resulted in a tyranny of the majority which did not equate with democracy. The loudest would take over and he would feed the lower nature, a "demagogue..." Consequentially, the masses would go along with the most aggressive out of either fear or inability to control their lower self (the wave.)

    However, this tyranny of the majority, in repressing minority rights, (non-citizens i.e. women and slaves, foreign workers, those who did not worship the Greek Pantheon of Gods or one of the Greek Gods) AND in repressing the democratic will of those too afraid too stand up against the expression of hatred, meant that there were more who did not have their will realized than did not.

    The undemocratic nature of 'direct deocracy' was why in the West, indirect rule by the people (through a representative who is constrained by laws which aim to protect all) is expressed. Pure democracy is not democratic.

    What we see in Maldives, is, rule by the people directly. It is primitive democracy. The demagogues who tell Anni your President what to do through controlling the will of the majority whom he is too frightened to offend are the religious preachers, from Maumoon down to the Salafi's, and the power brokers behind the gangs, a few politicians and business men who contrl the heart and minds of their ppl through cash!

    Most Maldivians are too afraid to stand up against the will of the tyrants, because, their welfare (house, hospital bill, food, water, childrens and families afety depends on patronizing the status quo...)

    The Maldivian culture, through fear, represses the realization of true democracy, and, to break that fear, a sacrifice of resistance must be made.

    These 17 protestors are the true democrats of the Maldives, only THEY deserve the name Maldivian Democratic Party.

  34. Maldives had freedom of religion all these days. Whats meant by this is any body can hide there faith and live a happy life. Faith needs no advertisement with in four corners of male. And also most of the people who claim freedom of religion are Atheists and they need no temple neither a church. So in my opinion forcing to make maldives a percent or more down of there 100% muslim slogan is a waste of time.

    Also people who think that islam supports and give freedom to multiple beliefs, thats a very kiddy idea after quoting the verse " Lakum dheenukum valiya dheen" and "islam has no compulsion". Islam never gives rights to other religions and never will because that is the universal religion and thats the only guided right way in the presence of Allah SWT. no compulsion means they dont force you to accept islam and never will, because its a belief and no one can make you believe in the unseen unless anyone accepts it. and pls note down that this doesnt give any other religion to practice specially in maldives.

    and to the people who hide there faith after my good advice please obey the constitution of any country. majority wants no religion other than islam. And please dont teach others how islam is when you dont believe and practice it while pretending you are a muslim.

  35. For those who are quoting ”Lakum dheenukum valiya dheen”: No one forced you to be a citizen of this Nation! The constitution of this Nation states clearly that all citizens should be Muslims. So, the story is, if you want to be Maldivian you have to be Muslim. Since no one forced you to be Maldivian ie, there is no compulsion to be Maldivian and thus no compulsion is believing islam either. Hilath needs to be stoned to death. He's been spreading anti-islamic agenda for quite sometime, tryin to produce divisions in this Nation.

  36. Some Maldivians think that only they are human beings and others are ....... who still neesds a lot of guigance. This is totally wrong.Where as some think that "Evenif I go to hell, I should send everyone else to heaven" GREAT......

  37. The Maldivian government is among the most retrograde, repressive states on earth, forcing it's people to live in the equivalent of the dark ages. Of course it is Muslim so that is no surprise.

  38. @Name.

    If the Quraan states "Lakum Dheenakum Valiyadheen", our constitution contradicts the Quraan. Can you comment?

  39. allow me to quote Name (4 posts up): "...No one forced you to be a citizen of this Nation!..."

    all of us were born here on the same Maldivian soil, and were all citizens long before we were muslim, atheist or of any other belief. Chances are, with the high degree of educational homogeneity and similarity in social norms across the nation, we were all brought up as muslims.

    If as adults, we then choose to believe differently than what we were thought, do we no longer hold a birth-right to this soil?

    Moreover, regardless of religious belief, don't ALL Maldivians give back to their nation? It's a simple case of investment and returns, if you are investing in this nation, and you do so legally and in a manner that the nation progresses, does it matter what you believe in a flying teapot in the sky or not? does that belief hold greater weight than the simple fact that you are of Maldivian blood and every day you give your life to make the Maldives a better home for yourself and your dependants?

  40. After acknowledging what is happening in these "paradisiac islands", I shall inform all my clients and prospects to change their holidays plans and rather select a more civilized destination. I hope the raising sea level will wash away all these muslim bigots.

  41. Allahuakbaru!! now lets spill some blood.

    and editor, i know your edited this line out of the comment i made, could you please post this? cos this is the truth. please

  42. Kratos is power in Greek Ben. Not 'Cracy'


    The Ayatullah Khomeini, may his name ever be praised, would have none of it - and would have had the advocates of such a bizzare political system garroted on the spot!

    Power belongs to God, and God alone!

  43. we all need to get educated from the great islamic leader in the islamic history after the prophet mohamed s.a.w.
    That is Khalifa Umar bin al-Khattab.

    proper human rights were practiced then.
    Specially the leaders should follow and learn from his practices in order to maintain law and order in the society.
    "The awe and fear that Umar commanded was because of his high moral character. People feared him because he feared God."

  44. @Markaz: thanks for reminding me

    Demos - people kratos - power

    sorry, went from memory


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