Deputy Speaker Nazim appointed Opposition Parliamentary Group Leader

A new coalition of opposition MPs from the Peoples Alliance (PA), Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP)’s Z-Faction, Jumhoory Party (JP) and Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) last night appointed the new group’s leader, deputy leaders, spokesperson and whips.

Deputy Speaker of Parliament and PA MP Ahmed Nazim was chosen as the leader of the Opposition Parliamentary Group.

DQP MP Riyaz Rasheed and Z-DRP MP Ilham Ahmed were appointed as deputy leaders of the parliamentary group while Z-DRP MP Ahmed Mahlouf was appointed spokesperson.

Z-DRP MP Hamdhoo Hameed was appointed as the “government watch” and PA MP Abdula Azeez Jamal Abu Bakur, Z-Faction MP Ali Arif, MP Ahmed Nihan, MP Abdul Muhsin, MP Mohamed Rafeeq and independent MP Ibrahim Riza were appointed as whips.

Deputy Leader of DRP Ahmed ‘Mavota’ Shareef meanwhile told Minivan News that the current political situation of the Maldives was very fluid.

“Today everyone needs power and to get that power one might do anything, be it out of the law or within the law,” Shareef said.

Shareef predicted that according to the way things were going, DRP MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali “will not lose the position of minority leader in parliament.”

“We do not support the policy of the government, that is why DRP is here, and we will only support people that support the policy of DRP.”

Announcing the decision to create the new opposition parliamentary group, MP Mahlouf said Thasmeen was also welcome to join the opposition parliamentary group.

Thasmeen did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.


MDP files no-confidence motion against Deputy Speaker of the Parliament

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs have filed a no-confidence motion against Deputy Speaker of Parliament and People’s Alliance (PA) MP, Ahmed Nazim.

MDP Parliamentary Group’s Spokesperson MP Mohamed Shifaz confirmed that MDP had filed the motion today.

‘’We have finished all the documentation work and today we handed it to the parliament,’’ said Shifaz.

Shifaz said the party there were many issues with Deputy Speaker Nazim.

‘’First of all, he has many legal cases filed against him in the courts, and there are many issues regarding his integrity,’’ Shifaz said. ‘’Most of the MPs believe that he has to be dismissed. If that happens, it will benefit the work the government is doing to ensure the independence of the judiciary.’’

Shifaz accused Nazim of deliberately delaying work sent to the parliamentary committees in which he has influence.

In retaliation, the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) filed no-confidence motions against Home Minister Hassan Afeed and Finance Minister Ahmed Inaz.

Shifaz claimed that although the opposition filed no-confidence motions against the cabinet ministers, they would not be able to get the numbers required to dismiss them.

”They are dreaming if they think they can dismiss any of the ministers,” he claims..

DRP MP Ahmed Mahlouf meanwhile said that if parliamentarians continued working like this, the parliament would prove dysfunctional.

‘’We can’t work like this. One day MDP will file a no-confidence motion against the Speaker, the next day the opposition will file a no-confidence motion against a cabinet minister and if it continues like this, parliament’s responsibilities will be left undone,’’ said Mahlouf. ‘’I have decided to speak with the political parties myself to let them know that it is not right.’’

Mahlouf acknowledged that during the recent protests over the economy, some MPs including Mahlouf himself had signed a no-confidence motion against Finance Minister Inaz.

Nazim did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.


Nazim appears in court over corruption allegations, requests lawyer

Deputy Speaker of Parliament and MP of opposition coalition partner the People’s Alliance (PA), Ahmed Nazim, was today summoned to the Criminal Court for a hearing of a corruption case filed against him, with the Prosecutor General’s Office accusing him of gaining money through fraudulent transactions.

Criminal Court Judge Saeed Ibrahim granted Nazim’s request for seven days in which to seek a lawyer, after he was given the opportunity to respond to the accusations.

Judge Ibrahim said the trial would continue without notice if Nazim failed to produce a lawyer by the deadline.

The case is the second to be lodged against Nazim by the Prosecutor General’s office.

State Prosecutor Abdulla Rabiu alleged that Nazim, used the equipment and staff of Namira Engineering and Trading Private Limited of which he was the managing director to propose a bid in the name of a company called Tech Media Services, not registered in the Maldives.

At a press conference in August 2009, Chief Inspector Ismail Atheef said police had uncovered evidence that implicated Nazim, former Atolls Minister Abdulla Hameed and Eydhafushi MP Ahmed “Redwave” Saleem, former director of finance, in fraudulent transactions worth over Rf3,446,950 (US$270,000).

Police presented numerous quotations, agreements, tender documents, receipts, bank statements and forged cheques, claiming they proved that Nazim received hundreds of thousands of dollars in the scam.

A hard disk seized during a raid of Nazim’s office in May allegedly contained copies of forged documents and bogus letter heads.

Furthermore Nazim’s wife Zeenath Abdullah had abused her position as a manager of the Bank of Maldives’ Villingili branch to deposit proceeds of the fraudulent conspiracy, police alleged.

Hameed, also long-serving Speaker of the People’s Majlis, played a key role in the fraud by handing out bids without public announcements, making advance payments using cheques against the state asset and finance regulations, approving bid documents for unregistered companies and discriminatory treatment of bid applicants, police claimed.

In April this year, police confirmed a request from the Criminal Court to bring Hameed before a court in the Maldives, after a summons could not be delivered to him in a pending case.

Several hearings have been cancelled in the high-profile corruption case involving Hameed, who is the brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, after the court was unable to determine his whereabouts and deliver a summons.

Nazim was not responding to calls at time of press.


Leaked audio implicates MDP MP in secret deals with Thasmeen

A leaked phone call between MP Mohamed Musthafa and Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim discussing a bill proposed by the former to cease state benefits to ex-President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has emerged in local media, suggesting a secret relationship between the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP and embattled Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali.

In the leaked audio clip, Musthafa explains that while he did not believe that former President Gayoom deserved financial benefits after returning to active politics, he had considered withdrawing the bill but was dissuaded by Thasmeen.

Moreover, the MP for Thimarafushi claims that Thasmeen had offered financial assistance to his campaign in 2009 against Gassan Maumoon, son of the former President.

Musthafa told Minivan News today that he would not comment on the leaked audio clip.

”It was Gayoom who leaked the phone conversation, he has a phone tracing machine, which was once in [presidential palace] Theemuge during his administration. He took it with him when he left,” alleged Musthafa. ”He has violated our privacy.”

“Because of him, Thasmeen and I had to go into a verbal quarrel. Thasmeen was very concerned,” he continued. ”We can’t even sleep with our wives now because of Gayoom.”

Neither Thasmeen nor minority opposition People’s Alliance MP Nazim has responded to Minivan News at time of press.

In July 2009, Musthafa told Minivan News that one of the “five richest MPs in DRP” had secretly helped his campaign.

Meanwhile, in his letter condemning Thasmeen’s leadership last week, Gayoom accused Thasmeen of not participating in any DRP trips to Thaa atoll for Gassan’s campaign.

In July 2010 both Musthafa and Nazim were arrested on charges of bribing a Civil Court judge with US$6000 and a two-way plane ticket to exert influence on a court case; however Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed ruled there was not reasonable grounds to extend the detention of the two MPs.

Translated transcript of the leaked phone conversation:

Nazim: You know that bill on Maumoon you submitted, the one about terminating benefits? That’s coming up, either tomorrow or the day after, it’s going to come…so how did that come about? I’m asking because you submitted it.

Musthafa: Yes, that. Well, a lot of people know why it has been submitted, right? Even whom it was that asked [me] to submit it. In truth, I proposed it during those days when I was saying I am going to sue Gayoom. And he came back to politics and it looked as if things were going to go back to the way they were, it was round then that I did it. It’s not something I approve of in any case – resigning, announcing to the whole country that he was stepping aside from politics, and then coming out again and taking to stages, that’s really not good. So that’s why I submitted it – on the notion that he did not deserve those benefits.

But in fact it wasn’t just me who backed it. I did it because some people asked me to do it. But afterward, when [others were telling me] to amend it or withdraw it, they told me ‘Musthafa, we’ve heard about this, why would you want to take it back, don’t withdraw it.’ And the person who said this is someone who has always given me great assistance and support.

But, when two others requested that I withdraw it, I asked him again, what should I do, I’m facing pressure from your party. They’re telling me to pull it out.

Nazim: MDP is asking you to withdraw it?

Musthafa: Er, now, it’s not just MDP alone. You know these so-called Maumoon factions?

Nazim: Hmm.

Musthafa: It’s some of them. It was mainly Mahlouf who talked to me about it, asking me to take it back. After he met me about two or three times, I changed my mind and thought about withdrawing it, thinking that I did not really want to pressurize someone so advanced in age. I was going to take it back and asked that side.

Nazim: What is this ‘side’ you’re talking about? How would I know when you say ‘that side’?

Musthafa: You know very well that it’s Thasmeen. Anybody would know. He is someone who has helped me a lot with this even in the past. For example, during Gassan’s campaign – it’s even noted in that letter Maumoon sent. Whether it is Maumoon or anyone else who says it, it is a fact. [Thasmeen] never once went to Thimarafushi. He was in Fonnadoo near Thimarafushi once but he wasn’t going to go to Thimarafushi to campaign against me and challenge me, right? That is how it is.

Nizam: By help do you mean he gave money to your campaign? But then, he’s not going to give Musthafabey money when there’s someone from DRP [contesting].

Musthafa: [Laughs] That’s a big misunderstanding among them, isn’t it? If you think about it, even a child would know that neither Thasmeen nor his family would want Gassan to come into this. That is how it is. Everyone in the country knows that.

To put it briefly, I cannot withdraw it without a word from that side. That’s it. I’ve even got different offers, asking me to take back that bill I proposed to cut off Maumoon’s benefits. Even within my own party, some have asked me. [they’ve said], ‘what is this for’.

But it’s not going forward because of this problem. The way it is now it is very difficult for me to go against Thasmeen and them and take it back. Even if something happens to me tomorrow, they are the ones who are going to help. So I can’t do it. If not, I would have done what I could.


Comment: Extremism threatens our economy

We’ve heard in recent news government officials referring to rising fear of Islamic extremism in the Maldives.

We’ve heard about children not being vaccinated or not being sent to school in the name of religion; women being provided with a single bucket of water for the day, again in the respect of religious norms; children being restricted from music and other types of art; male children being forced to wear trousers shin high; schools threatened for asking male children to shave their beards; the classifying of many immaterial matters outright haraam such as smoking, watching movies or cartoons (Tom & Jerry, Mickey Mouse), singing, playing or listening to music, women travelling of women without a husband or family member, the showing of hair or wearing of perfume by women; or news and blogs promoting genital mutilation of females.

Another serious threat is the increased preaching of hatred against the west. The west (the majority of whom are understood to be Christians or Jews) is portrayed as the singular prime threat to the religious stability of the country.

This is a paramount danger to our economy given our dependence on foreign money. We should keep in mind that an act such as the one that happened at Sultans Park a few years ago could cripple our economy, slashing our foreign income.

Currently, the government is committing the Maldives to large contracts with foreign nations, with majority populations of Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and others. The Maldives is not self-sufficient and therefore we are at the mercy of other nations who are willing to ally with us and help us bear fruit. We cannot afford to live on the annual ration of a few tonnes of Saudi dates.

During recent years, many industries and public services are being capitalised on foreign investments. At such a time, how can we even allow the thought to draw a religious boundary around ourselves? We have been selling liquor and allowing illicit sex on all our resorts for almost 40 years because we cannot let religious boundaries starve us to death.

Our main politico-religious party is Adaalath Party, who also has its presence in the government sphere, ruling the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. They are assigned the responsibility of upholding the religion of the country – Islam – with a reported US$16 million budget.

Adaalath recently held one of their statutory meetings at a prominent public space (Alimas Stage). The whole meeting was aired live on Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation’s TV channel, MNBC one. The station is well known for its pro-government programming.

I was watching intently one of the speeches of this meeting. I found it really distasteful and offensive, to hear one of the famous preachers in the country, Sheikh Ilyas, known for being arrogant and blunt about religious statements.

He was saying that Muslims should not trust Christians or Jews in any way for they are not reliable on their word. He went on to say that any agreement made by them would never be kept. He mocked human rights and women’s rights as tools used to evade Islamic prudence. Every now and then he raised a copy of Quran above his head and said that he was presenting the word of God.

It is hard to imagine why the government, on one hand, is acknowledging the spreading extremism in the country, while at the same time is assigning public funds for the spreading of such extreme and radical ideologies.

The reason is that it is constitutional for the government to uphold and strengthen Islam as the religion of the country. And the government fulfils this part very smoothly: sets up a specific Ministry (the first religious ministry of the country), puts the leading religious political group in charge, and assigns a significant chunk of budget for their purpose.

Here is something the Ministry of Islamic Affairs published on their website (in local language), followed by a translation (by a blogger) during the Haiti disaster:

“Are there any Muslims in Haiti? Do we have to gain wisdom from this [disaster]? Haiti is a caribbean island nation, located not far from America. A certain number of Muslims live there. It is reported that they are not good people. There is no doubt about this; such earth quakes are moral lessons for everyone. Such [disasters] are caused by God because of the actions of mankind.”

Now, the public is at a loss for words. Those who are assigned the responsibility of upholding and strengthening Islam in the country, are advocating against the government’s policies and also promoting extremism. They are outright in saying that no deals should be made with infidels (such as Christians or Jews, who are not trustworthy as per God). They mock human rights and women’s rights in public.

It doesn’t take one to wonder, why this could happen? Why is the government apologetic about growing extremism but still allowing such things to preached in the public? Is our government crippled from doing anything about this?

Firstly, the Islamic Ministry was a promise the ruling party made during the elections. Protecting Islam was one of the major five promises of the ‘Other Maldives’ campaign. Since Adaalath sided with the MDP during the coalition to overthrow Gayoom’s dictatorship, MDP duly handed the reigns of the ministry to Adaalath. On top of this, our constitution demands our government promote and strengthen Islam. As such the government is carrying out their constitutional responsibilities.

Our constitution also says that Sharia is based on the Quran and those findings, judgments and rulings concurred by the majority of religious scholars. When the majority of the leading scholars of the country concur on hatred against Christians, Jews and other infidels, backed up by our Constitution, what should the government do instead of sleeping with the enemy? I think the government should change their partner, before its too late.

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]


Revelations of a former apostate: Mohamed Nazim speaks to Minivan

Many Maldivians are depressed and “collapsing inside” under the weight of the silence enforced on their questions of belief in Islam, Mohamed Nazim has said.

Nazim, now often referred to as ‘The Apostate’ by many, openly expressed doubts over his belief in Islam at a public lecture given by Dr Zakir Naik, an Indian religious speaker, towards the end of May this year.

Days later Nazim re-embraced Islam, equally publicly, having received counselling from religious scholars while on remand at Dhoonidhoo. Both events – Nazim’s renouncing of belief in Islam and the rapid reversal that followed -elicited a strong response from both liberals and conservatives both within the country and overseas.

Whatever the opinion on either side, Nazim told Minivan News, the issue of faith – or lack thereof – was not going to go away “simply because it is ignored.”

“Both the state and non-state agencies need to, at the very least, acknowledge that there are a substantial number of Maldivians who think about their faith and, sometimes, question it,” he said.

Nazim said that acknowledgement of their existence was not tantamount to calling for a secular state, as many seem to assume, but rather the first step towards addressing the problems that inevitably accompany any serious questions regarding faith.

Nazim’s repentance and return to Islam after his public proclamation that he was ‘not a Muslim’ happened within days. Reports said the change had been the result of counselling which Nazim had received while on remand. Details of what followed after his proclamation of ‘apostasy’, until now, have been vague.

‘I am not a Muslim’

“I do not believe in Islam”, were Nazim’s exact words to Dr Naik. He asked Dr Naik whether being born to practising Muslim parents made him a Muslim. If so, he asked, what would his status – and penalty – be in Islam?

‘That means you are not a Muslim”, replied Dr Naik, a medical doctor who owns ‘Peace TV’, a religious television channel based in India. During a meandering reply to Nazim’s question, Dr Naik told Nazim that the State was in a better position to advise him than a religious scholar like himself.

However, he added, the death sentence was not mandatory for apostates in Islam. It is only if the State itself is Islamic that the death sentence could be the ultimate penalty: “The Maldives is a Muslim state, not a Islamic State”, Dr Naik said.

Nazim said he sensed the hostility of the audience from the moment he asked his question. Intermittent jeering and calls for violence against him interrupted the rest of his dialogue with Dr Naik. Once Dr Naik’s answer was over, Nazim chose to return to an aisle seat near the exit.

Despite the strategic decision, a man wearing a long knee-length shirt over baggy trousers – a type of dress relatively new to the Maldives but long favoured by Afghans and Pakistani Muslims – punched Nazim in the neck before he ran towards police seeking protection.

After apparently suspecting initially that Nazim was running at them with hostile intent, the police took him into protection and escorted him to Iskandhar Koshi, a police barracks not too far from the lecture venue.

Some people followed him as he ran to Iskandhar Koshi, flanked by policemen. While waiting for the police to decide what was to be done with him, Nazim said, a policeman in plainclothes approached him.

“I know what you guys are up to. It will never happen in this country,” he said ominously, before leaving.

Nazim said his decision to publicly announce his doubts about Islam was one that he had made his own. He had neither discussed the matter with anyone else nor sought anybody’s advice on the matter. He had simply expressed doubts “that I sincerely entertained.”

“I felt as if I was suffocating. The extremism that was taking hold in the Maldives was increasing so rapidly. I could not travel in any vehicle anywhere without having to listen to extremist material,” he said. “I needed to speak about it.”

‘Protective custody’ or protected by default while in custody?

Although officially under police protection, Nazim was taken to Dhoonidhoo, the remand prison, and processed as any other accused. He was first put into what he described as ‘a cage’ – named ‘Arrival’ – while the necessary paperwork was done. An investigation by four officers, who Nazim describes as ‘invariably pleasant men’, lasted around two hours until 2:30am in the morning.

Nazim said he could see the reasons why an investigation was necessary. As the police noted, his actions had become a national issue. Some of the public reaction also implied that it could threaten public order or even national security.

The unprecedented nature of his actions also meant that the police were unsure whether he had committed an offence as defined in Maldivian law. He was told he would be held in Dhoonidhoo until the investigation was completed. He was there for four nights.

Nazim spent the first night sitting on a swing. He had been offered a bed, but he was sleepless and did not need one. The following day he was allocated a cell.

“It was disgusting”, he said. Everything was as left as used by the previous ‘tenant’. In the cells both to his right and to the left were people accused of murder. The cell was cleaned the following day, after his protestations.

He was able to talk to his lawyer the following day, when he was brought to court to be officially remanded in Dhoonidhoo. His lawyer also told him that the Human Rights Commission of the Maldivian (HRCM) would be unlikely to be able to intervene on his behalf as a case of apostasy would not fall within their remit.

The two scholars visit

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs appointed two scholars to counsel Nazim while in custody. They arrived on the third day of his detention. Inside half an hour of talking to them, Nazim said, he told them he was ready to accept Islam as his faith.

The discussion, he said, was honest. He expressed his doubts openly, and agreed that embracing Islam was the best thing for him.

In a discussion with his lawyer, who had visited him ahead of the scholars, they had both agreed that Nazim’s interests would be best served by “living as all other Maldivians do”. He would be a Maldivian, abide by the laws of the country, and live according to its Constitution.

An hour after meeting him, a brief counselling session and a prayer performed together, the two religious scholars who had visited Nazim as an apostate left him a Muslim.

The decision to read the Shahaadhath on national television, he said, was his own. His proclamation of apostasy was made in front of an audience, broadcast on national television, and played out across the Internet. He needed a public forum to demonstrate his return to the folds of Islam, he said, for his own safety.

It was only after he agreed to ‘revert to Islam’, as Dr Naik had referred to the process, that Nazim was allowed a pen and paper, which had requested numerous times during the time he was held in Dhoonidhoo. He had wanted to write to President Mohamed Nasheed as well as international NGOs to highlight his plight.

Once a ‘born-again Muslim’, he had pen and paper and a new cell that was far cleaner than the one he had before. He was also allowed to walk and leave the cell at times.

He was returned to court in Male’ on the fifth day of being held in Dhoonidhoo. Once he recited the Shahaadhath in front of the sitting judge, he was told he was a free man. There was no case against him.

The legal black hole

Nazim said he was not aware of a pending legal case against him, as has been reported by the media. A report of the investigation of his actions had been sent as a matter of routine to the Prosecutor General. The case, as it were, was closed as far as Nazim was aware.

Did Nazim commit a crime? Article 9a (3) of the Constitution states that anyone who was a Maldivian citizen at the commencement of the 2008 Constitution is a citizen of the Maldives. Article 9c states that despite the provisions in Article 9a, a non-Muslim cannot become a Maldivian.

In between however, is Article 9b, which is unequivocal and unambiguous in its statement that ‘No citizen of the Maldives maybe deprived of citizenship’. It does not stipulate any circumstance whatsoever in which a person, once a citizen, can be deprived of their citizenship. The wording of Article 9a, which states that ‘a non-Muslim may not become a citizen of the Maldives’, understood in common parlance, suggests that it applies to those who wish to become a Maldivian.

How does this apply to Nazim? Had he not been ‘born a Muslim’, according to Dr Naik’s opinion on the matter? Was there then a need for him to become one? If he could not be deprived of his citizenship under any circumstance, why would he have had to ‘become a Muslim’ in order to ‘become a Maldivian’?

“When I did what I did,” Nazim said, “legally I was absolutely convinced that there was no way I could not be a Maldivian.”

There is no statutory law covering the issue of apostasy, which means, as stipulated in the Constitution, it is an offence ‘on which the law is silent’, to be considered according to Islamic Shar’ia. If he remained a non-Muslim and, therefore, a non-Maldivian, would Shari’a still have applied to him?

A silence similar to the one that Nazim describes as forcing Maldivians to keep quiet about questions over their faith appears to hold forte over public and official discourse on the subject of Islam.

Life as the only post-apostate Maldivian

Nazim is an affable, dignified and unassuming 38-year-old. He is heavily involved in community development projects, volunteers with many such projects, and is engaged in the development of social policy.

The reaction to his declaration of non-belief in Islam, he said, has been mixed – angry and supportive, superficial and profound. He lost 65 friends on Facebook, the social networking site to which almost every computer literate Maldivian subscribes. He did, however, gain 246 new ‘friends’.

His own friends and colleagues, he said, are uneasy talking about it. Very few have actually discussed it with him. He can feel its presence however, unspoken yet potent, in his every social interaction with another person.

Among the general public, apart from a few threatening text messages and threats left on his ‘wall’ on Facebook, the reaction has been muted since his public recitation of the Shahaadhath.

He does not regret what he did, he said: “Somebody had to do it, it needed to be spoken about. The repression of thought, the lack of debate and a lack of a proper public sphere in which such discussion can take place, is dangerous.”

He recalled Ismail Mohamed Didi, the 25 year-old air traffic controller who hung himself from the control tower of Male International Airport in July after he was ostracised by colleagues, friends and family when he expressed his doubts about his belief in Islam.

One of the two men who publicly expressed their doubts over faith decided to re-embrace Islam and live life as the Constitution says a Maldivian should. The other decided life was not worth living.


Corruption trial of Deputy Speaker postponed to November: Criminal Court

The Criminal Court of the Maldives has postponed the trial of Deputy Leader of the People’s Alliance (PA) and Deputy Speaker of the parliament MP Ahmed Nazim to November this year.

A statement from the Criminal Court said the delay in the trial, which began earlier this year, was caused by a “lack of information and necessary documents from the Home Ministry.”

The Criminal Court said it had now received the necessary pending document and that the trial would resume on November 9.

The Criminal Court attempted to summon Nazim in July, however he was being held in police custody and failed to receive the summons, the statement said, adding that it was only able to hold two of the scheduled five hearings.

In May last year police raided Nazim’s office, seizing a number of documents and hard drives as part of a special operation to investigate allegations of corruption.

In August last year, police concluded investigation into corruption charges concerning the former Atolls Ministry and sent five cases to the prosecutor general’s office.

On conclusion of the investigation, police charged former Atolls Minister Abdulla Hameed and Nazim with corruption, with Chief Inspector Ismail Atheef alleging that numerous quotations, agreements, tender documents, receipts, bank statements and cheques had been forged, and that Nazim had personally benefitted from over US$400,000 in fraudulent transactions.

Police investigations  focused on three main points in the ministry’s audit report for 2007 and 2008: the purchase of mosque sound systems for over US$138,000; the purchase of 15,000 national flags for over US$110,000; and the purchase of 220 harbour lights at a cost of over US$151,000 from businesses with close ties to Nazim.

According to Atheef, Eydhafushi MP Ahmed ‘Redwave’ Saleem, who was director of finance at the ministry at the time, actively assisted the scam.

Saleem has now joined the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

“In these cases, money laundering was involved,” Chief Inspector Ismail Atheef told Minivan News last year.

“I wouldn’t say money from these transactions was directly deposited to the accounts of Abdulla Hameed or Ahmed Saleem.’’

Police claimed Hameed played a key role in the fraud by handing out bids without public announcements, making advance payments using cheques against the state asset and finance regulations, and approving bid documents for unregistered companies and discriminatory treatment of bid applicants.

The first two cases of the ministry’s audit report reported by police revealed similar fraudulent transactions to purchase 150 harbour lights for over US$157,000 and the purchase of 15,000 national flags worth US$110,000.

Nazim has previously pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud the former ministry.

During a hearing in March, State Prosecutor Abdullah Rabiu said Nazim was Managing Director of Namira Engineering and Trading Pvt Ltd when the company’s equipment and staff were used to create fake letterheads and submit proposals on behalf of unregistered companies.

More recently in July this year, Nazim and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed Musthafa were arrested on suspicion of bribing MPs and a civil court judge, however Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed ruled that there were no reasonable grounds to grant an extension of the MPs’ detention based on the evidence presented by police.

“Both of them were arrested last night on charges of bribing a civil court judge. According to the information we have, they offered US$6,000 and a two-way ticket for a trip abroad, and exerted influence on a civil court case,” claimed the police lawyer in court.


Case of former apostate Nazim sent to Prosecutor General

Police have completed investigating the case of Mohamed Nazim and have submitted the matter to the Prosecutor General’s office.

Nazim publicly claimed he was “Maldivian and not a Muslim” during a question-and-answer session with Islamic speaker Zakir NaikNaik in March, angering many in the 11,000-strong crowd and forcing police and Islamic Ministry officials to escort him from the venue for his own protection.

After two days of religious counselling while in police custody, Nazim appeared before television cameras at an Islamic Ministry press conference and gave Shahada – the Muslim testimony of belief – and apologised for causing “agony for the Maldivian people” and requested that the community accept him back into society.

Deputy Prosecutor General Hussein Shameen confirmed the PG’s office had received the case from police, but had not yet taken the decision to submit it to the Criminal Court.

According to the Maldivian constitution all citizens are required to be Muslim, and the country is always described as a ‘100 percent’ Muslim country.

Minister for Islamic Affairs Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari told Minivan News at the time that he was unsure if Maldivian law had a penalty for apostasy. Where the country’s laws do not cover such a case, Maldivian courts default to sharia law.

Apostasy is considered a grave sin under Islam, although scholarly opinion varies as to its punishment: in response to Nazim’s question, Dr Naik clarified that the penalty was only death “if the person becomes a non-Muslim and propagates his faith and speaks against Islam. Just because a person who is a Muslim becomes a non-Muslim, death penalty is not the ruling.”


MDP head office damaged in alleged arson attack

The head office of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) suffered almost Rf 1 million in damage in an alleged arson attack last night, according to managing operator Ibrahim Manik.

”Photocopy machines, fax machines, printers, huge speakers, microphones, cloths and flags were burned in the arson attack at around 12:45am, last night after the MDP rally,” Manik claimed.

The arson attack caused more than Rf 900,000 (US$70,o00) in damage to the office.

Manik said that when he came back from dinner after the rally, some of the MDP supporters present at the head office claimed to have heard something hitting the roof.

”So we checked the area, because recently some people on different occasions have attempted to attack us with petrol bombs,” Manik claimed. ”We checked but did not see anything, but after a while we started smelling smoke in the area so I went to check the depository room.”

Manik said he saw clothes in the room on fire, and ”I called the people outside and told them the place was on fire.”

”We started to evacuate the room, but everything was destroyed after we evacuated. We controlled the fire using a water tap, but it was a dangerous attack and it caused us to lose much of our valuable property.”

Manik claimed the fire was the result of an attack orchestrated by “some opponents.”

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said the case was reported to police, who were now investigating the case. Nobody has been arrested in connection with the matter, he said.

Recently a group of people attacked and destroyed the glass windows of shops belonging to Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) deputy leader Ibrahim Shareef.

In another incident, a group of people attacked the house and car belonging to People’s Alliance [PA] leader and MP Abdulla Yameen.

Very recently during an MDP protest, protesters threw stones at the house of Deputy Leader of PA Ahmed Nazim, breaking the window of the house’s first floor at midnight.