Nasheed hits campaign trail in Gasim’s constituency, highlights track record on Islamic affairs

Former President Mohamed Nasheed returned to the campaign trail yesterday (November 12) in Alif Dhaal atoll – where Jumhooree Party (JP) candidate Gasim Ibrahim secured 50 percent of the vote – stressing the Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP’s) track record on Islamic affairs.

Addressing the people of Thohdoo in Alif Alif atoll in his first stop, Nasheed slammed opponents for “using Islam to play with people’s hearts” and reiterated that other religions will not be allowed under an MDP government.

“When they make false allegations against us and create doubt and suspicion in the hearts of the people, in my view it is not damaging to me but damaging to the Maldives and our future,” he said.

Rival parties have persistently accused the MDP of being “irreligious” and pursuing a “secularisation agenda,” contending that the country’s independence, sovereignty and 100 percent Muslim status would be threatened by a Nasheed presidency.

Highlighting the previous administration’s track record, Nasheed meanwhile noted that an Islamic Ministry was formed, scholars were offered unprecedented freedom to preach, and a Shariah-compliant Islamic Bank was established.

In contrast, Nasheed said, religious scholars were persecuted and jailed during former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s 30-year reign.

The MDP government secured an investment of MVR127 million (US$8.2 million) to set up the Islamic Bank, he added, while repeated calls for Islamic finance were unheeded by President Gayoom.

Nasheed also noted that a Fiqh academy was set up in 2009: “This was never done in President Gayoom’s government. He kept saying no one would know religion better than me, so we don’t need a Fiqh academy here. But we saw that there should be discussions about Islamic matters and scholars should be able to give moral advice.”

In addition, Nasheed continued, a first-ever symposium of local scholars took place, foreign financial assistance was secured to upgrade the Faculty of Shariah and Law, a new building was constructed for the Arabiyya School, Islam and Quran teachers were trained for 150 schools, and 42 new mosques were built.

Three days after assuming office in November 2008, Nasheed said the government authorised preachers to deliver their own Friday sermons.

“It was [previously] prohibited to preach anything other than the sermon that [the government] wrote and gave and if they did they would be arrested,” he said.

Courting Gasim

Nasheed emerged the frontrunner in the November 9 revote with 46.93 percent while Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate Abdulla Yameen polled 29.73 percent. Gasim finished third with 23.34 percent of the vote.

As neither reached the required 50 percent plus one vote, Nasheed will face Yameen in a run-off election on Saturday, November 16.

Although Gasim announced that the JP council had decided not to back either candidate, both parties have been seeking the business tycoon’s endorsement this week. Following a visit by former President Gayoom yesterday, Gasim told the press that he would ask the JP’s national executive council to reconsider its decision.

A council meeting is scheduled for 4:00pm today.

Following his meeting with Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid and MDP MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Monday night, Gasim told reporters that Nasheed had “cleared up” doubts concerning the MDP’s stance on religion.

Gasim referred to Nasheed’s appearance on the state broadcaster the same night, during which he vowed that “nothing will happen under our government that could weaken Maldivians’ Islamic faith”.

“I don’t like to posture as a religious person, but I am also an ordinary Maldivian raised by loving parents with religious instruction just like any other person,” he said.

Nasheed also said that only Islamic Minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari had “veto power” in his cabinet.

The former president apologised for Gasim’s arrest in 2010 on charges of bribery and treason and appealed for his support in the run-off election.


Following visits to Thohdoo and Mahibadhoo, Nasheed went to Maamigili for a campaign rally in Gasim’s native island and parliament constituency.

The JP candidate won 862 votes from the island while Nasheed received 334 votes. PPM candidate Yameen trailed behind with 45 votes.

Alif Dhaal atoll was also one of two atolls where the MDP failed to garner the most number of votes. Gasim secured 3,234 votes from the atoll to Nasheed’s 2,060 votes.

Speaking in last night’s rally, Nasheed alleged that former President Gayoom “did nothing” to instil Islamic values in younger generations.

Nasheed pledged to build more than 100 smaller “neighbourhood mosques” for the elderly, who were unable to walk long distances five times a day.

Nasheed also referred to the MDP’s 2013 “costed and budgeted“manifesto, which included the construction of an “Islamic Knowledge Centre” for MVR 200 million (US$13 million) with a library, lecture halls and a mosque with a capacity of 5,000 worshippers.

Other pledges include conducting an international Islamic conference at an estimated cost of MVR 25 million (US$1.6 million) with the participation of renowned foreign scholars, training 300 Quran teachers to first degree level, and allocating MVR 36 million (US$2.3 million) for renovating mosques across the country.


Maldivian suspects released in rape case of Indian teacher

Two Maldivian suspects arrested in connection with rape, assault and robbery of a young Indian teacher on Dhangethi in Alif Dhaal Atoll in February have been released, while a Bangladeshi national remains in custody.

The Bangladeshi suspect was taken into police custody after the incident as he was about to board a boat departing for Male’.

A community member from Dhangethi claimed that a large number of people came to the harbour prior to the police’s departure with the suspect and called for the Bangladeshi man to “face due justice,” according to Sun Online.

“Some people tried to attack the Bangladeshi man at the time of his arrest, and the conflict was encouraged by the island council,” alleged the source.

The Dhangethi Island Council denied allegations of encouraging a violent confrontation, but confirmed some people at the harbour did attempt to harm the suspect before police brought the situation under control.

Head of the Police Serious and Organised Crime Department, Mohamed Dawood, told local media that it was believed the Bangladeshi man had committed the rape.

“We monitored all vessels leaving the island during the investigation. In that regard, we first took the two Maldivians into custody. But later we arrested the Bangladesh man who was living on the island as his behavior was suspicious,” Dawood explained to Haveeru.

The three men were accused not only of raping the 25 year-old computer teacher, but of stealing her mobile phone, an Acer laptop, and MVR 9000 (US$583) in cash, a source with knowledge of the investigation told Minivan News.

Police recovered the victim’s belongings, and a knife believed to have been used to threaten the woman, inside the home of the Bangladeshi national.

The three suspects were taken by police to the island of Mahibadhoo in Alifu Dhaalu Atoll. None of the men arrested were over the age of 23, the source said.

The attack

The young woman suffered serious sexual trauma, according to police.

Speaking to Minivan News on February 11, an informed source said the woman had been transferred to the atoll hospital’s intensive care unit and was “bleeding uncontrollably” following the attack.

“The victim was taken to Mahibadhoo Hospital where she is being treated for the injuries she suffered from the incident. There was blood all over her room when the police attended the scene,” the source told Minivan News.

According to local media, when police arrived at the scene the young woman was found slumped near her bed, which was covered in blood.

A source close to the victim told Minivan News February 23 that the woman was subsequently transferred to a hospital in India.

“She has still not recovered from the attack, I have been in contact with her, but now she is in India,” he added.

The incident occurred on Sunday (February 10) – some time between 2:30am and 2:45am, the source said.

Local media reported that the woman was teaching a private computer course on the island.

Island Council President Adam said the young woman had been working on the island for less than a month, and described her as a “very kind person who was very friendly towards the local islanders”.

Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News he was checking whether the investigation is still ongoing or if a case has been filed with the Prosecutor General’s office.

The Prosecutor General’s office was not responding to calls at the time of press.


Young Indian teacher hospitalised in “very serious condition” after alleged rape

A young Indian teacher working on the island of Dhangethi in Alif Dhaal Atoll has been hospitalised after a group of people broke into her home on Sunday night and allegedly raped her.

The 25 year-old woman is in a “very serious condition” following the attack, said the Island Council President Azim Adam.

“They broke in [to her house] around 2:15am. I came to know about it at 4:00am and I instantly reported it to the police. The girl is now in the atoll hospital in a very serious condition,” Adam said.

A source close to the victim said she was in the hospital’s intensive care unit but was “bleeding uncontrollably.”

“We have put seven pints of blood into her but she is still bleeding. It is a very serious issue. We are planning to send her to India, there is not much more we are able to do here,” the source said, adding that her brother had arrived in the Maldives and was on the island.

The Indian High Commission in the capital Male’ said it had been informed of the incident and had received the woman’s details from the police.

Maldives Police Service (MPS) Spokesperson Sub Inspector Hassan Haneef said specialist teams were investigating the incident. He could not confirm whether any arrests had been made, but said further details would be released to the media at a later stage.

Local media reported that the woman was teaching a private computer course on the island.

Island Council President Adam said the young woman had been working on the island for less than a month, and described her as a “very kind person who was very friendly towards the local islanders”.

Dhangethi is the third largest populated island of Alif Dhaal Atoll, with a population of around 1200 people.

An official from the Indian High Commission noted that a similar case had occurred in 2011 involving an Indian nurse working on an island in the Maldives.

“I told the police that [in 2011] there was a rape case like this whereby a nurse was raped on one of the islands. However in that instance all of the suspects were later acquitted in court,” the official added.


Maamigili MP opens first private airport with personal airline Flyme

The Maldives’ first private airport opened today in Alif Dhaal atoll Maamigili with Maamigili MP Gasim Ibrahim’s own ‘Flyme’ airline beginning operations from Male.

The first commercial ‘Flyme’ flight left Male this morning with 16 tourists, Gasim, his family, and senior Villa officials on board, Haveeru reports. The airline has two aircraft with a capacity of 46 passengers each.

Maldives Association of Tourism Industries (MATI) is said to have provided support for the airport’s construction. Gasim said the airport includes private jet parking, and there are plans to use more aircraft to service Gaaf Dhaal atoll Kaadehdhoo and Seenu atoll Gan.

CEO of Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, Andrew Harrison, has expressed support for the airline.

Flyme airlines scheduled 10 flights for its opening day, however it did not disclose ticket prices.