‘Al Andalus’ speech did not violate broadcasting code of ethics: Broadcasting Commission

The Broadcasting Commission has ruled that the Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC)’s televising of a sermon by Jamiyyathul Salaf preacher Sheikh Adam Shameem Ibrahim did not violate any regulations.

The MBC’s chairman Ibrahim Umar Manik along with members of the Broadcasting Commission were summoned before Parliament’s Independent Institutions Committee, following complaints by MPs of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) that the sermon infringed the rights of the party’s presidential candidate.

“We definitely do not consider [televising the sermon] as anti-campaigning against a particular candidate using religion. [But] around 11:35pm, because his talk was changing a little, we stopped the live [broadcasting],” Manik told the committee.

In a brief statement the Broadcasting Commission declared today that the state broadcaster had not violated the broadcasting code of ethics by airing the sermon.

In the sermon, titled ‘Al Andalus’, Sheikh Shameem drew comparisons between the Maldives and factors he claimed led to the collapse of the medieval Islamic state that occupied much of Spain, Portugal, Andorra and southern France.

“In the struggle among political parties to come to power, we are seeing dangerous parallels with the real reasons why Andalus fell: seeking help from non-Muslim leaders, bringing in their power and companies to our country. It is not prohibited to have non-Muslim labourers, but if we let any non-Muslim entities exert their power, even in business, over Muslims in our land, that is the end of us,” Shameem said.

“Some people tell us that despite supporting a certain politician, their faith cannot be changed, although they say they know [the politician] does not believe in Allah. I am very happy that there are people with such strong faith among us. It is indeed an extraordinary man who can hold onto his faith while being with a kafir, an infidel who commits sinful acts and uses intoxicating substances.

“However, he used to say there will be no way any other religion can be practised here, but his tune has changed. Today he says that despite churches being built, his faith will personally not change. That people of other religions should also be able to live here freely and be granted rights as Islam is a peaceful, just and caring religion. This is very true, but what he wants is a horrible result. He wants to challenge Allah about the justice in our religion.

“This country will have a dark future if we allow the police and army to be exposed to the training sessions given by non-Muslims, outright kafirs, in the guise of professional development. The kafirs will then have an opportunity to make the police and army hate Islam,” he preached.

Read the translation of the sermon


Customs bill passed

The Maldives’ Customs Bill proposed by the government was passed today with 41 votes in favour, 23 against and two abstentions.

Originally submitted by ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Eva Abdulla, the legislation would take customs employees out of the civil service as uniformed state employees.

While a minister appointed by the President is to be in charge of customs, day-to-day functions will be overseen by a Commissioner General of Customs.

Once ratified, a Customs Integrity Commission will be instituted to exercise oversight of the border control institution.

The legislation also specifies stiff penalties and fines for attempted smuggling and import duty evasion while also authorising customs to either fine offenders between Rf10,000 (US$778) and Rf240,000 (US$18,670) or face up to two years in prison.

Also at today’s sitting, a bill proposed by minority opposition People’s Alliance (PA) MP Abdul Azeez to protect the Dhivehi language was passed with amendments after the legislation was vetoed by President Mohamed Nasheed.

Debate meanwhile continued on amendments to the Tourism Act proposed by opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Ahmed Mahlouf to strengthen security at tourist resorts.

A code of ethics for MPs proposed by Independent MP Mohamed Nasheed and reviewed by committee was not passed after 37 MPs voted against and nine abstained.

The code was sent back to committee for further review after neither committee recommendations nor five amendments proposed on the floor garnered majority support.