Bill banning import of alcohol presented to parliament

A bill banning the importing of alcohol and pork into the Maldives has been presented to the parliament.

The bill was presented by Independent MP Ibrahim Muthalib, which he said amended the list of things that could not be imported to the country under 75/4 of the law on concerning contraband.

”The last time I presented a bill  banning that sale and usage of alcohol on inhabited islands they sent it off the floor claiming that it only bans particular places or areas (inhabited islands),” he said. ”This time I am presenting a bill to ban [alcohol and pork] from being brought inside the country at all.”

He said he hoped that all the MPs would make “a good decision” on the bill after thinking “with a good mind.”

DRP MP Ahmed Rasheed said that he would not support the bill.

”By removing my arms in case I hit someone, by cutting out my tongue in case I talk filth, by blinding my eyes in case I see something that ought not to be watched, by plugging my ears in case I hear something I ought not – I can’t be a Muslim that way,” he said. ”I don’t think there is anyone with so weak a faith.”

People’s Alliances party MP Abdul Azeez Jamal Abu Bakuru said that he “fully supported” the bill.

”I have information that in 1972 alcohol was not imported to the country,” Jamal said. ”It is not a good way to think that its best to be surrounded by sins and not to commit. [For example] it is said to stay away from sex before marriage, and to wait patiently without doing it.”

PA leader and MP Abdulla Yameen said that although the Maldives was a hundred per-cent Muslim country importing alcohol could not be fully banned.

”Look at Jeddah (a Saudi Arabian city on the shores of the Red Sea). It is a city in an Arab Islamic country but you can get alcohol from there,” Yameen said.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Parliamentary group leader Moosa Manik claimed he would not support the bill as it was “politically motivated”.


PA claims senior government officials “are not very religious”

People’s Alliance (PA) Leader and MP Abdulla Yameen has claimed that the senior officials of the government are “not very religious”, during a rally to celebrate the day the Maldives embraced Islam.

Secretary General of the PA, Ahmed Shareef, also claimed the government was not interested in religion and had done “many things to weaken Islam in the country.”

”Last year during Ramadan the government allowed non-muslims to eat in day time,” Shareef said,”and they disbanded women’s mosques.”

He said the government had also dismissed many Imams from their position, “and gave away the land belonging to the Kulliyathu Dhiraasathul Islamiyya school,” he added, when it was brought under the Maldives College of Higher Education.

”They also discussed the building of temples in the country and selling alcohol on inhabited islands,” he said.

Press Secretary for the President’s Office Mohamed Zuhair said the claims were untrue.

”The government has done many things to strengthen and protect Islam in the country,” Zuhair said.

He said the government’s policy was to leave all the religious issues to Islamic scholars.

”As we are not religious scholars we always leave religious issues to the religious scholars,” he said, pointing to new freedoms given to scholars.

“Yameen is not a religious scholar,” he added.

Spokesperson for Maldivian Democratic Party MDP Ahmed Haleem said the government had always tried to protect Islam in the Maldives.

”It’s a fact that the government has never arrested a religious scholar, unlike the former government,” Haleem said.

Haleem claimed the former government arrested more than 20 religious scholars after their sermons.

”I never knew that Abdulla Yameen was so religious,” Haleem said. “Maybe in the future we will see him at the mosque with a long beard and short trousers.”

Sheikh Abdulla Jameel said in his view Islam in the Maldives “has become very strong”, particularly among young people “who are now very interested in Islam.”

”I have noted that the number of people going to the mosques has also raised,” he said.

He said he believed this had happening because the government’s efforts to promote the role of religion in people’s hearts.

”The new government allows scholars to give sermons as they wish,” he said.

President of Islamic NGO Jamiyyath-al-Salaf, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohamed Ibrahim, said the group did not wish to comment on issue.


Haama editor fined Rf5000 for defaming Yameen

Editor of Haama News Saif Azhar was fined by civil court last Thursday for defaming the character of People’s Alliance (PA) leader Abdulla Yameen.

Civil Court Judge Maryam Nihayath ruled that an article published in June last year claiming that Yameen had US$32 million in his HSBC bank account was defamatory.

Saif was fined Rf5000 (US$385), currently the maximum penalty for defamation in the Maldives. Yameen also has lawsuits pending against Ibrahim Waheed, the journalist who wrote the article, the editor of Jazeera Daily Fayyaz Faisal, the owner of Haama Daily (Axis Maldives) and Ahmed Muhsin, the assistant editor of TVM.

Yameen had sought Rf2,570,000 million (US$192,000) for psychological damages and Rf21,775,305 (US$1.67 million) for material damages, claims which were dismissed by the judge.

Azhar said he was not in town when the article was published and had no knowledge of it, claiming that his journalist Ibrahim Waheed had written the piece.

”In the article we mentioned that the source [of the information] was online news website Manadhoolive,” he said, ”but the judge decided that we had not referred to any source.”

He said the same article published in Haama News was also published in the newspaper Haveeru.

President of the Maldives Journalism Association (MJA) Ahmed ‘Hiriga’ Zahir said the association did not support journalists defaming people’s character.

”We do not support journalists writing stories without any evidence or proof,” he said. ”It’s a practice everywhere to fine journalists.”

Secretary General of the PA Ahmed Shareef said the outcome of the case showed that the country was strengthening its judicial service.

”Journalists have to be more responsible and careful when publishing articles,” he said.

Yameen failed to response Minivan News at time of press.

The former editor of weekly magazine Sandhaanu was also recently ordered to pay Rf5000 (US$389) for defaming Mohamed Ghassan Maumoon, the former president’s son.

Ghassan took Abdulla ‘Fahala’ Saeed to the civil court seeking Rf3.375 million (US$262,600) over an article Fahala had written in the 118th edition of Sandhaanu magazine.