MDP to work with Adhaalath Party as Sheikh Imran calls for “national unity alliance” against government

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) national council has adopted a resolution today to work together with the Adhaalath Party (AP) after Sheikh Imran Abdulla called for the formation of a “national unity alliance” against the government.

The national council unanimously approved a resolution proposed by MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to accept the AP’s invitation and discuss commencing joint efforts to achieve common goals.

The resolution said the MDP believed President Abdulla Yameen’s administration had brought the Maldives to “a critical juncture” by violating the constitution and laws, and welcomed the AP’s decision “to do everything it could within legal bounds to change the current situation.”

The AP’s consultative council decided last night to work against the government to bring an end to “the brutality of President Yameen’s regime.”

At a press conference earlier today, AP President Sheikh Imran called on NGOs and political parties to unite to protest against the government.

The party’s council decided to bring an “end to all this brutality within the boundaries of Islamic Sharia, the constitution and laws of the Maldives,” a statement by AP read.

It accused the government of “leading the way for gangsters and people who commit serious crimes.”

The party also accused the government of corruption, misusing the police and military, undoing separation of powers, undermining independent institutions, and encouraging drug use.

Moreover, the AP said the government was exerting undue influence over the judiciary and questioned the fairness of court verdicts.

The religious conservative party officially withdrew its support for the government last week. The move followed stringent criticism from Imran on social media in the wake of the arrest and prosecution of former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim on possession of illegal weapons.

Imran has maintained that the retired colonel was framed by the government after police found a pistol and three bullets in his apartment during a midnight raid. He has also contended that the trial of former President Mohamed Nasheed on terrorism charges was not conducted fairly.

The opposition leader was found guilty of terrorism on Friday night (March 13) and sentenced to 13 years in prison over the military’s detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

Meanwhile, Islamic Minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, an AP council member, criticised the party on Twitter following the decision to work against the government.

“Justice should be for everyone. Even people who call for justice should not utter a word except for justice,” Shaheem tweeted.

Another tweet by Shaheem read: “Government institutions need the help of Islamic scholars. The government will accept constructive advice.”

Last month, the MDP formed an alliance with the Jumhooree Party (JP) and launched nightly protests against the government’s alleged breaches of the constitution.

Addressing supporters earlier this month, President Yameen said former allies the JP and AP working with the MDP was “a riddle” as both parties had participated in anti-government demonstrations against former President Nasheed’s administration.

The AP had backed a mass demonstration in December 2011 accusing Nasheed of pursuing anti-Islamic policies and undermining sovereignty. The party later took part in the 22 days of serial protests that led to a police and military mutiny on February 7, 2012, forcing Nasheed to resign.

In an appearance on JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa TV earlier this month, Sheikh Imran said the time had come for the religious party to stand up for the Maldives.

“I believe now is the time for the people who value our nation’s freedom and peace to stand up for the country. Maldives is not on the right track. There is fear amongst the people. We should stand up for them,” he said.

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Islamic Minister denounces ISIS connection claim

Islamic Minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed has condemned former Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem’s claim of connections between the Islamic Ministry and the Islamic State.

In an interview with India’s first post, Naseem blamed Shaheem for “Maldives’ rapid degeneration into Wahabi Islam” and said Shaheem was “in cahoots with the IS.”

In response, Shaheem tweeted last night: “The Maldives’ Islamic Ministry does not support the IS ideology. I have repeatedly said so before.”

On August 24, Shaheem said in a tweet “ISIS is an extremist group. No space will be given for their ideology and activities in the Maldives.”

Two days later, Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon issued a press release condemned human rights abuses carried out by the IS and called for the respect of life and dignity in the spirit of Islam.

Subsequently, approximately 200 people carrying the ISIS flags marched in Malé calling for the implementation of the Islamic Shari’ah.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party has repeatedly questioned the government’s sincerity, alleging the government had failed to take concrete action against growing radicalism.

Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed in January estimated over 50 Maldivians to be fighting in foreign civil wars.

Since then, a former cleric of Malé’s Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital and his wife reportedly left to ISIS-held territory in Syria for jihad.

A Facebook group called Bilad Al-Sham, claiming to represent Maldivians in Syria reported at least five Maldivians have been killed in battle in the Middle East last year.


Nasheed accuses Adhaalath leaders of radicalising youth

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has accused leaders of the religious conservative Adhaalath Party of radicalising and indoctrinating youth to carry out vigilante action in the name of Islam.

“Don’t do this to our youth. Don’t make them do all these vile deeds after picking them out individually and leading them astray,” the opposition leader appealed at a Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) rally in Malé last night.

Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla is believed to have been abducted by a radicalised youth, Nasheed claimed.

“What he did was a crime, a very serious crime. But the person who convinced him to abduct Rilwan committed an even more serious crime,” he added.

A young person would not have been motivated to abduct Rilwan without indoctrination, the MDP president suggested.

“What I have to say to Sheikh Imran [Abdulla] and Sheikh [Mohamed] Shaheem is don’t play the role of satan in the guise of sheikhs,” Nasheed said, referring to the Adhaalath party president and Islamic minister, respectively.

The Islamic minister was not responding to calls at the time of press.

A private investigation commissioned by human rights NGO Maldivian Democracy Network has implicated radicalised gangs in Rilwan’s disappearance.

The findings of the investigation – conducted by Glasgow-based Athena Intelligence and Security – made public yesterday suggested that Rilwan was most likely to have been abducted.

Citing the abduction of several young men in June by a vigilante group in a push to identify online activists advocating secularism or professing atheism, the investigation report found gang activity in Rilwan’s abduction to be a “strong possibility.”

The abductions in June followed local media reports of a meeting between Islamic Minister Shaheem and youth groups who expressed concern over the harassment of Islam and the promotion of homosexuality.

Minivan News learned that individuals photographed in the meeting – and in a separate meeting with Home Minister Umar Naseer – formed part of the vigilante group that carried out the abductions.


Nasheed meanwhile warned of the rise of Islamic extremism in the Maldives.

“It’s difficult to say ‘extreme’ Islamic principles. They are not Islamic principles. Islamic principles are not hard or soft. They are moderate. Islam is always moderate,” he said.

Islam was being misused for “undue advantage and political gain,” he continued, and youth were being made to commit “many vile deeds.”

“Harming people in the name of Islam, abducting people in the name of Islam, and killing people, I know for certain that – and you don’t have to be a religious scholar –  that is not how it is in Islam, that we all know Islam is not a violent religion,” he said.

Earlier this month, Nasheed told the Independent newspaper in the UK that the vast majority of Maldivians fighting in Syria and Iraq were ex-military.

“Radical Islam is getting very, very strong in the Maldives. Their strength in the military and in the police is very significant. They have people in strategic positions within both,” he alleged.

Following the MDP’s claim in May that extremist ideologies were prevalent in the security services, the defence ministry dismissed the allegations at the time as both “baseless and untrue” and intended to “discredit and disparage” the military.

The Maldives Police Service (MPS) meanwhile issued a press release on Thursday (September 18) condemning Nasheed’s allegations.

While police estimated that about 24 persons with links to militant jihadist organisations might be active in the Maldives, MPS insisted that none of them were police officers.

“And the police leadership has always been working to ensure that such people are not formed within the police,” the statement read.

Meanwhile, the MDP asked yesterday for police to investigate death threats made against its MPs and senior members, who the party said were also being followed.

MDP MP Eva Abdulla received a text message last night threatening a suicide attack during the next MDP gathering. The message threatened to “kill off” MDP members and to fight “to the last drop of blood.”

MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy told Minivan News earlier this week that death threats have become too commonplace to publicise each incident.


Referendum on death penalty not permitted, says Islamic Minister

Islamic Minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed has criticised MP Ahmed Mahloof’s proposal to conduct a public referendum on whether to enforce the death penalty.

“Seeking public opinion on how to proceed on an issue that has been determined by Islamic Shariah cannot be permitted,” the senior Adhaalath Party member tweeted today.

The Progressive Party of Maldives MP yesterday declared his intention to submit a resolution to parliament on holding a public referendum on reintroducing capital punishment.