Comment: Extreme times…extreme measures?

Are you familiar with the game of ‘chicken’? It’s when two testosterone (and probably alcohol) fueled teenagers, egged on by their often scheming and cowardly friends, challenge each other to get into a car and drive towards themselves at high-speeds to see who will back-down or steer-away from certain collision and probably death. The first person to do so is then regarded as a ‘chicken’, with subsequent consequences on pride, relationships and social standing.

Over the last fortnight in the Maldives, we are witnessing the silliest, but most high stakes game of chicken being played by politicians who really should know better. From both sides of the political spectrum, rational individuals who should know better are getting into their respective cars – that on which the entire country relies on – and simply revving up their engines and let go of the brake.

By their side, we have the bearded Islamists, egging them on and waiting for the entire foundations of the Maldivian economy to self-destruct – so that the atoll caliphate can be reborn in all its glory.

In the old days (i.e. the time right after Maumoon forgot his criticism of Nasir for allowing alcohol to be sold), we were told that a central tenet of islam was : to each, his own. If you wanted to be a Christian, Buddhist, Shinto, Scientologist – that was your right and we will not try to change that. It conveniently allowed an ideological space for our tourism sector to grow.

However, according to the new religious authorities of the Maldives, this is no longer the case. A Maldivian economy that relies on the money of Kafir’s drinking and sleeping with their unmarried partners in our hotel rooms is hypocritical and should be overthrown.

These are extreme times we are living in. However, it is perhaps becoming slowly but abundantly clear that the existing status quo is slowly disintegrating. History has shown that when there are two parties of people living on the same area with wildly different ideas of what society should be like – the only sad solution is separation. Think India and Pakistan, West and East Germany, North and South Korea, South and North Sudan…etc.

Or perhaps take a more domestic metaphor – for many years, the relationship between the tourism industry and moderate Islam in general, and the firebrand conservatism of the current Islam in the Maldives, was like a marriage of convenience. Like any partners in a marriage, they each had their idiosyncrasies. However, for the sake of a young growing nation, both sides simply put their differences aside and tried to work it out. Today, both sides argue that the other are simply not playing fair and making unreasonable demands on each other. For the sake of the children (and future generations), isn’t it time now to consider a divorce and go their own separate ways?

Now, I’m not saying that a separation is not going to be a messy affair – what separation is not? However, in our case, it does not have to be.  The Islamic conservatives do not want to have anything to do with the tourism industry. So naturally Male’ atoll and Ari Atoll will be part of the Liberal Maldives – where most of the existing resort infrastructure are. Male has also been built on money ill-gotten from trading in alcohol, adultery (not all tourists who stay in resorts are married), and generally haram behavior. Every single aspect of the existing economy has been tainted with it, so surely they cannot in good conscience live in Male’.

So for the Islamic conservatives we provide them with a part of the country and call it the Islamic State of Maldives (or the Arabic name for Maldives) – say North or South – they can choose – and they will give up their existing land in Male’ so that people from that part of the country can come and stay there. Now I am not so certain quite what they will base their economy on – but surely they must have ideas (fisheries, agriculture, Islamic banking hub, Islamic tourism) And to be frank, good luck to them. I value diversity, and I hope they are successful and show us an alternative way to live to the western dominated environment destroying globalised economy.

The other part of the country will form the Liberal Democratic Maldives. The nature of that liberal democracy is one that puts individual freedom at heart – and runs an economy on the basis of that. The role that religion plays in this society is clearly complex – as it is in any society. It could be a moderately religious place (i.e. like Malaysia) or it could be one where religion has no place in public life but only in private life. It could for example be a dual economy – where a different set of rules apply to visiting tourists than to locals in terms of what they can and cannot do. Or it could (Allah forbid) be one where people are free to practice whatever religion they please.

As you may be able to tell from my tone, I have a small bias towards the liberal viewpoint and my preference is to live in the LDM. However, I truly and genuinely respect that you may have a conservative viewpoint. Your idea of Islamic banking and Islamic tourism hub may work like a charm – I mean they do say that Europe is now a dead economy. And who knows, as I grow older and as my wife grows uglier, I may be convinced of the joys of a second younger wife – and then, I’ll be on the first boat to your side.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


Comment: Anwar al-Awlaki’s killing is unjustified

Barack Obama’s administration and lawmakers may cheer the killing of US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. But this is not how legal scholars, libertarians and millions of Muslims feel.

Al-Awlaki, born in New Mexico on 22 April 1971, was an American Islamic scholar who was an engineer and educator by training. He was killed in a drone attack in a remote Yemeni town on 30 September 2011 by US forces.

To some, he is a Muslim hero, a mujahid (fighter for the sake of Allah) and a great Islamic scholar. His lectures have inspired hundreds of followers. One reason why many people admired him was that he was talented in delivering Islamic lectures in fluent English. This made him famous not only in US and Europe, but also in the Maldives.

There are only few Maldivians who agree with US government officials’ allegations against al-Awlaki. According to US president Obama, he was the leader of external operations for the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a statement which many Maldivians openly deny.

“The death of Awlaki is a major blow to Al-Qaeda’s most active operational affiliate,” said Obama after the drone attack. “He took the lead in planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans … and he repeatedly called on individuals in the United States and around the globe to kill innocent men, women and children to advance a murderous agenda.”

According to US officials al-Awlaki allegedly preached to a number of al-Qaeda members and affiliates. Among them were three of September 11 hijackers, alleged “Christmas Day bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and alleged Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan.

US government has made a list of allegations against al-Awlaki, but none of these allegations was ever made in court.

Al-Awlaki was an American citizen. The Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution explicitly guarantees the right to life of American citizens in the absence of due process of law to determine when to withdraw that right. The Fifth Amendment stipulates that no citizen shall be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”.

Article 11(a) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence”.

But al-Awlaki was executed without any charges, without a trial or without giving any chance to defend. Even Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was given his constitutional rights before his execution. This raises questions about the legal authority under which the US government can target its own citizens for assassination.

Al-Awlaki’s father Nasser al-Awlaki has publicly announced his son’s innocence.
“I am now afraid of what they will do with my son,” he said speaking to CNN earlier. “He’s not Osama bin Laden, they want to make something out of him that he’s not.”
“He has been wrongly accused, it’s unbelievable. He lived his life in America; he’s an all-American boy”.

US officials have continuously accused al-Awlaki for preaching radical Islam, which gives endorsement for Jihad (struggle) and violence. This inspired new recruits to Islamist militancy, especially though internet (YouTube), according to US officials. His videos were removed from YouTube on 3 November 2010.

This is the only evidence which the US government has presented to the media against al-Awlaki in order to prove he is a radical, an extremist and a terrorist.

If this is the case, the US may label not only al-Awlaki but other Islamic scholars in future for giving “radical” sermons, because sermons are based on the verses from Quran and Hadith of prophet Muhammed (pbuh).

In Quran, there are nearly 41 verses which speak about Jihad, and many more verses against Jews and Christians.

For example, Quran 4:89: “They wish that you reject Faith, as they have rejected (Faith), and thus that you all become equal (like one another). So take not Auliya’ (protectors or friends) from them, till they emigrate in the Way of Allah (to Muhammad pbuh). But if they turn back (from Islam), take (hold) of them and kill them wherever you find them, and take neither Auliya’ (protectors or friends) nor helpers from them”.

Similarly, Quran 2:191: “And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah is worse than killing. And fight not with them at Al-Masjid-al-Haram (the sanctuary at Makkah), unless they (first) fight you there. But if they attack you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers”.

Al-Awlaki’s story has told the world today that US government is the judge, jury and executor of all Muslims.

Ibrahim Mohamed is a Parliamentary Reporter at the Peoples Majlis of the Maldives.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]