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.


Criminal Court warns MP Ghafoor of trial in absentia

The Criminal Court has warned Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor that it will try him absentia if he fails to attend a court hearing scheduled for 1:30pm on Thursday.

Ghafoor took refuge inside the People’s Majlis on Thursday (October 24) following several police attempts to arrest him and present him at the Criminal Court. He is being tried for refusal to provide a urine sample – an offense that carries a one year jail sentence and could disqualify him from his parliamentary seat.

“The Criminal Court orders Hamid Abdul Gafoor of H. Shady Corner, Malé to attend court at 13:00 on 31 October 2013. If Hamid Abdul Gafoor is not present at the court at the specified date and time, we inform him we will continue with and conclude the above trial in absentia as per Article 30 (a) of the Regulations on court summons,” a statement issued by the Criminal Court today said.

Criminal Court Chief Justice Abdulla Mohamed is presiding over the case.

Ghafoor has accused the criminal court of a “politically motivated personal hunt” to influence the MDP and its ally Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party’s simple majority in parliament. Ghafoor is also being tried separately for possession of alcohol.

The MP has pleaded innocent at the two hearings that have taken place so far. A third hearing was scheduled for October 23 at 9:00 am. But Ghafoor’s lawyers told the Criminal Court a day in advance that the MP could not attend due to a parliamentary proceedings scheduled at the time.

Article 11 of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act sates that an MP cannot be summoned to court during Majlis sittings or parliamentary committee hearings.

However, the Criminal Court did not respond to the letter. Instead, it scheduled a new hearing for 1:00pm on October 24 and issued a court warrant ordering police to arrest Ghafoor and present him at court. The MP took refuge inside the Majlis and has not left parliament premises since.

The Criminal Court scheduled a second hearing on Monday October 28 at 9:00am and issued new arrest warrant. The police wrote to Speaker Abdulla Shahid to turn Ghafoor over, but Shahid cited Article 11 of the Parliamentary Privileges and Powers Act and said Ghafoor could not be summoned to court during Majlis hours.

Speaker obliged to protect MPs, says Majlis

Ghafoor’s lawyer Hussein Shameem said his client would appeal the Criminal Court’s “unlawful” arrest warrants at the High Court, saying that the Criminal Court had not followed due process.

Shameem also argued the state had no grounds to prosecute Ghafoor as there was no legal evidence of the police having requested a urine sample. According to the Drug Act, the police are to ask for a urine sample in writing and obtain a signature from the accused if they refuse to provide a sample, he claimed.

Shameem has written to Prosecutor General (PG) Ahmed Muizz to review the case due to “procedural issues” and to carry out the PG’s duty to uphold the constitutional order and the law as per Article 223 of the constitution by taking action against the courts for issuing unlawful summons.

Ghafoor told Minivan News on Sunday that he was willing to stay inside the Majlis premises “until the judiciary is destroyed.”

“Now I know how helpless ordinary citizens are. I feel like I’m being hunted by a corrupt judiciary. You don’t feel good when you are being singled out. You feel like prey. You can never relax,” Ghafoor said.

The MDP has condemned the judiciary’s attempts to “purge” its MPs. On Thursday (October 24), the Supreme Court, in a controversial ruling, stripped MDP MP Ali Azim and DRP MP Mohamed Nashiz of their parliamentary seats over decreed debt.

Eight other MDP MPs are currently being investigated for contempt of court and disobedience to order. MP Abdulla Jabir is also being tried for refusal to provide a urine sample and possession of alcohol.

Meanwhile, former Attorney General Azima Shakoor has criticized Majlis Speaker Abdulla Shahid for allegedly helping MPs evade courts by harboring those who had committed criminal acts inside the Majlis building. Azima was voted out of office in a no confidence motion on Tuesday.

A Majlis secretariat statement has refuted the allegations, arguing that the speaker is constitutionally obliged to protect MPs.

“The People’s Majlis Speaker assures all the citizens he will uphold the rights and privileges enshrined in the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act for all Members of Parliament without any political bias,” it said.

The Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) has expressed alarm over the prosecution of MPs and is to send an urgent IPU delegation to the Maldives.

“I propose that an IPU delegation returns urgently to the Maldives to discuss and agree with the relevant authorities and stakeholders effective steps to ensure that the parliament can fully discharge its legislative and oversight functions freely and independently and that its members can do their work unhindered, without fear of intimidation and harassment or attack on their physical integrity,” said the Secretary General Anders B. Johnsson.

MDP MP Ahmed Easa has submitted an amendment to the Drug Act to reduce the jail time for refusal to provide a urine sample from one year to 15 days. Easa said the specific article in the Drug Act was being used unfairly for politically motivated reasons.

Speaking to local media, the National Drug Agency’s CEO Ahmed Shahid spoke against the amendment, claiming that reducing the sentence for refusal to provide urine would obstruct identifying drug abusers and providing treatment for drug abuse.


MDP and pro-government parties all planning rallies tomorrow

Political parties both supporting the current government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) of ousted President Mohamed Nasheed are planning rallies on Friday.

MDP will hold “Women’s rally for justice” tomorrow evening, calling for early elections. In a statement on the party’s official website, president of the party’s women’s wing, Shiyama Ahmed said “Our rally is to be held in all major streets of the capital Male’ to express our concerns. We shall call for the immediate stepping down of this ‘coup’ government and demand a date for early elections.”

According to Shiyama, the rally will commence near the Social Centre in Maafannu ward at 3.45pm, and conclude near the tsunami monument on the other side of Male’.

The MDP has also planned a ‘sleepover’ event tonight near the tsunami monument, part of their ongoing protest against the government. Nasheed’s party alleges that Dr Waheed’s government illegally came into power through a police mutiny, and are calling for early presidential elections.

The coalition of parties supporting President Waheed’s government have also meanwhile planned a rally on Friday evening at the artificial beach, just a short distance from the MDP’s protest, in which they will call on the government to take legal action against those who were involved in the arson attacks on local police stations and government offices on February 8, after a police crackdown on MDP supporters.

Spokesperson of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), MP Ahmed Mahlooof, said during a press conference yesterday said that the rally held by the coalition would take place at the artificial beach tomorrow evening at 4:00pm.

Mahloof stated that the different parties in the coalition were jointly working on to bring as many people from the islands to the capital Male’ for the rally, and said that many were willing to come and take part in the event.

Mahloof further stated that they had asked the Male’ City Council for the permission to hold the rally near the tsunami monument, but had instead been given the artificial beach area. Mahloof alleged that the MDP had taken hold of the Male’ city council.

“I have a feeling the two crowds will meet at some point tomorrow,” an MDP-linked source told Minivan News. “This is going to be a numbers game. We are demanding an election date.”

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has meanwhile travelled south to meet supporters in Addu, and is expected to return before the weekend’s protests.


Pillay controversy a missed opportunity to demonstrate nobility of Sharia: President

The Maldives missed an opportunity to demonstrate “the nobility of Islamic Sharia” to the world by reacting in “a Jihadi spirit” to controversial statements made by visiting UN human rights chief last month, President Mohamed Nasheed said at a rally Friday night.

A call for a moratorium and public debate on flogging as a punishment for fornication by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in an address to parliament on November 24 was unequivocally condemned by the Islamic Ministry, religious groups and political parties as an unconstitutional challenge to a Quranic precept.

“That the punishments and rulings of Islamic Sharia are not inhumane is very clear to us,” Nasheed said. “We have the opportunity to show the whole world how noble and civilised Sharia is. That is because we are the only Islamic nation with a democratically-elected government.”

“Wasting that opportunity in a Jihadi spirit” with the claim of “defending Islam” was unacceptable, Nasheed told supporters at the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) rally at Dharubaaruge, which saw the launching of a ‘Plus One’ campaign to double party membership ahead of the 2013 presidential election.

“Opposition parties will always attack us by using religion as a weapon,” he said. “[But] believe that this country is the only Islamic nation where Islamic Sharia has been practiced uninterrupted for 700 years.”

Islamic chief justices and principles of Sharia law had “a sacred place” in the Maldives’ long history, Nasheed observed, which “will not be shaken.”

“Maldivians are not a people who will allow the slightest harm to Islam,” he said. “We know how civilised the religion of Islam is.”

MDP understood that Islam “brought the world out of jahiliyya [ignorance] onto the path of civilisation,” he continued, adding that the party was committed to protecting the culture and traditions of the country.

In the past three years, he noted, the government spent Rf1.2 billion on “the protection of Islamic faith” (page 200 of the MDP manifesto), including the construction of 40 new mosques across the country.

Nasheed said he had been writing about the decay of the Gemmiskiy in Fuvahmulah, an ancient coral stone mosque, since 1990.

Meanwhile in a press conference on Thursday, seven opposition parties announced it would be joining the coalition of NGOs for a nationwide mass protest planned for December 23 “to protect Islam” against the MDP government’s alleged “anti-Islamic agenda.”

Speaking at the Friday night rally, MDP Vice-President and MP for Feydhoo, Alhan Fahmy, strongly criticised opposition parties and religious groups for objecting to the Pakistani SAARC monument, which contained pagan symbols of the Indus Valley civilisation and a bust of the country’s founder Mohamed Ali Jinah topped by the Islamic crescent symbol.

“The time when people worshiped idols, when people worshiped people and the public worshiped rulers in this country is over and done with,” he said.

Alhan accused religious groups and scholars of the Adhaalath Party for employing “religion as a shield” for political purposes.

“Instead of bringing people from Egypt for Ramadan revival programmes, we gave the opportunity for Maldivian scholars to speak and deliver sermons,” he said, in contrast to the former regime “jailing them and shaving their beards with chili sauce.”

Alhan also argued that accusing senior officials of the MDP government as well as the party’s members of kufr (disbelief) went against Islamic principles in a Muslim society.

He urged the Adhaalath Party to cease “sowing discord” with accusations against fellow Muslims and suggested the religious conservative party “talk about something else if you want to come to power.”

President Nasheed meanwhile suggested that “the people today are too aware and enlightened” to believe the charges laid against the government.

“We know what the people of the Maldives want. We don’t have to watch TV stations to find it out,” he said, referring to the opposition-aligned privately-owned broadcasters DhiTV and VTV.

Nasheed observed that the MDP received 53 percent of the total votes cast in the by-elections for vacant council seats in Alif Alif Himandhoo, Faafu Bilehdhoo and Gnaviyani Fuvahmulah on November 19.

“In 2013, I have not the slightest doubt in my mind that we will take 60 percent of the vote in the first round,” he asserted, claiming that there was “no other party in the country yet” that could meaningfully compete with the MDP.


“We have not forgotten your 30 years”: MDP to Gayoom

Leaders of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) launched vitriolic attacks against former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom at a rally Tuesday night, following his departure from the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) to lead the newly-formed Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

In a series of fiery speeches, MDP MPs and party leaders dubbed PPM “the property inheritance party” created to “set up a family dynasty” and condemned the former President’s return to active politics.

“We thought the person who ruled this country for 30 years was finished, but we’re now seeing the formation of the Private Property of Maumoon,” said MP Ali Waheed, former deputy leader of the DRP who defected to the ruling party in May. “We stayed quiet but it was Maumoon who picked off one teeth after another from DRP and now he’s saying DRP is toothless and forming PPM with people who need false teeth.”

The MP for Thohdoo added that he “came to the MDP to put a stop to this”.

“I want to call on [DRP Leader] Ahmed Thasmeen Ali and [Speaker of Parliament] Abdulla Shahid today, if you’re toothless, come to a party that has teeth and bite Maumoon,” he said.

Ali Waheed claimed that in the wake of MP Alhan Fahmy’s dismissal from DRP in late 2009, Gayoom sent a text message to DRP MP Ahmed Nihan’s phone from Singapore asking Waheed to call Fahmy “a rat.”

On Gayoom’s stated reasons for forming a new party, Ali Waheed said that the Maldivian constitution protected Islam and national sovereignty, neither of which required the the former President’s protection.

Ali Waheed accused Gayoom of undercutting young leaders of the DRP, predicting that “at the last minute” the former President would ask Umar Naseer and Abdulla Yameen – potential contenders for the PPM presidential ticket – to step aside to make way for his presidential bid.

Meanwhile after verifying the required 50 application forms, the Elections Commission (EC) approved the PPM’s request to register the new party today with Gayoom’s son Farish Maumoon as the party’s temporary liaison. Gayoom’s four children, along with half-brother MP Abdulla Yameen and nephew MP Hamdhoon Abdulla Hameed, were also members of the Z-DRP council formed after the ‘Zaeem’ faction’s split from the DRP.

“We have not forgotten”

In her remarks, outgoing MDP Chairwoman Mariya Ahmed Didi criticised Gayoom for refusing to rule out an attempt to return to power after inviting “educated youth” to join his party.

Mocking Gayoom’s request to reporters at Monday’s press conference to ask only one question at a time “because I might forget,” Mariya said that “[Gayoom] might have forgotten how [he] ruled for 30 years, the Maldivian people experienced those 30 years and remember it well.”

President Mohamed Nasheed told her that if the government arrested Gayoom or sought retribution or revenge, said Mariya, it would discourage the emergence of strong opposition parties.

Nasheed explained that “we have come out for a bigger picture and must be patient and lower our hearts,” Mariya said, expressing gratitude to MDP member for “the patience you have shown.”

“We are seeing that when the public has been very patient, some people mistakenly thought that people have forgotten the experience of 30 years,” she continued. “I want to tell President Maumoon, we do remember. We remember the brutality, we remember Evan Naseem and those who were killed with him.

“We remember what happened to our ballot boxes, how island chiefs sat on it and replaced ballot papers to get 98 percent [in previous presidential referendums] so that you could say ‘I’m the President.’ I want to tell Maumoon we have not forgotten how you destroyed our young generation with drugs so that they will not oppose you. We remember the level of corruption in this country in the past.”

“Access Denied”

AlhanMP Alhan Fahmy – who was dismissed from the DRP for voting against the party line in a no-confidence motion against Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed – meanwhile argued that the fledgling democratic system in the Maldives would not allow Gayoom to stage a come-back.

“There is only one way an autocratic ruler can come back,” he explained. “That is, the ruler can return to an autocratic government. Today our system is a democratic system. That means when Maumoon tries to enter the system, it will flash in big letters: ‘Access Denied’.”

Alhan said the “message MDP wants to send Gayoom” was that – as recent events in the Middle East have borne out – deposed autocratic regimes could not return to power.

“I have a two year-old child and whenever anyone asks him ‘what happened to Maumoon?’ he will immediately reply ‘he fell’,” Alhan continued, adding that presidents in democratic countries are not toppled from power but leave after completing their terms in office. “When you fall, you can’t climb back again. You have to stay on the spot where you fell.”

Meanwhile in his speech, President Nasheed asserted that there was no possibility of Gayoom returning to power.

“It is not something we should be concerned about in the least,” he said. “We know the history of this country and what happens to former rulers. [But] because what we want to see from this country is a different reality, we still keep saying ‘lower your hearts in victory’ and this is what we will keep doing in the future.”

Gayoom should be offered “the respect and honour due to a former President,” said Nasheed, assuring supporters at the rally that Gayoom’s political activities would not cause them “any harm whatsover.”

“That is not something that will happen in this country anymore,” he insisted. “Before concluding I do however want to tell you what happened to Ali Rasgefaan [Sultan killed in battle with an invading Portuguese garrison in 1558]. When he reached Maafanu [ward of Male’] and looked back, there were only two people behind him. He was buried there with those two. The Prime Minister of Andhiri Andhiri [Portuguese overseer] was Thufasha, who was Ali Rasgefan’s Prime Minister. Nothing new will happen in our country. This is a very ancient island. We are living with a thousand of years of history. Do not be worried at all.”


President Nasheed addresses drug issue at rally

President Mohamed Nasheed has said the the amount of drugs smuggled into the country “has decreased 100 per cent” over the last year.

President Nasheed made the comments while speaking at a rally for the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

Nasheed said that the fight on drugs was one of the five pledges made by the party, and highlighted the declining number of drug addicts on the street.

According to Miadhu, the President also said that the government would pay out Rf1.2 billion in subsidies “to improve peoples lives”.