Media Council concludes investigation of Minivan News

The Maldives Media Council (MMC) has issued a statement concluding its investigation into Minivan News at the behest of the Islamic Ministry concerning the publication of comments by an individual “who assumed the name of Allah and had harassed Islam and Allah.”

The case concerned a comment located on a story dated November 28, 2012 titled: ‘Government “cynically used xenophobia, nationalism and religious extremism” to attack foreign investor: former President’, in which a reader posted a comment under the pseudonym ‘Maai Allah’.

Minivan News at the time complied with a Criminal Court warrant dated December 3, seeking both the comment’s removal and the provision of the commentator’s email and IP address on the grounds they had violated Islamic principles.

Following the removal of the comment, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs sent a letter to the Communications Authority of the Maldives (CAM), dated December 5 and obtained by the Minivan News, calling for the site to be shut down.

“It has come to this ministry’s knowledge that among the comments published on an article named “Government ‘cynically used xenophobia, nationalism and religious extremism’ to attack foreign investor: former President” there were some comments made under the name of’ ‘Maai Allah’ offending Allah and Islam,” wrote Minister of State for Islamic Affairs, Mohamed Didi.

“Hence, the management of the prior-mentioned website has breached Article 8 and 10 of the regulation made under the Religious Unity Act. We therefore request you to close down that website at the earliest possible convenience, and to take action against online newspapers and websites which publish writing of this manner,” the letter reads.

Deputy Director General of CAM, Abdulla Nafeeq Faashaa, referred the matter to the MMC on December 10, stating in a letter that it was “in the mandate of the Maldives Media Council to govern codes of conduct and ethical standards, and because it is also in the council’s mandate to look into complaints sent in regarding media content.”

Faashaa further advised the MMC that “we would like to assure you that this authority will extend any technical work that needs to be done regarding this matter.”

The original letter was sent to the MMC on December 11.

In a statement this week, the MMC said the investigation panel had been informed by “those running Minivan News that the concerned comment has been removed from the website and have assured the council that no such comment has been published anymore. And the newspaper has also assured that such a thing would not be repeated by its editorial board. The council believes that Minivan News has therefore taken steps to make amends following the action and have been also informed the complainant.”

“Also, while looking into the case, the council strongly believed that Minivan News editor should adhere to the laws of the Republic of Maldives, therefore the council has decided formally request the owners of Minivan News website to ensure that its editor remains in line with the laws of the country,” the MMC stated.


High Court upholds blasphemy acquittal

The High Court has ruled in favour of the Criminal Court’s acquittal of a Maldivian who allegedly claimed that there was no God and Prophet Muhammad was not a Messenger.

The Criminal Court judge earlier said the man had made the comments while drunk and therefore could not be convicted. The man’s father had given evidence against him but the High Court ruled the father’s evidence inadmissible because it was motivated by a personal grudge.