This government is legless, three sheets to the wind, incapable of walking a straight line, has blurred vision and cannot remember from one second to the next what decision it made yesterday, never mind last month. If only this was heaven, the real mother of a hangover that is sure to come could have been avoided.
But alas, this is real life, and it is time this government stopped being intoxicated by the sense of achievement that has come with having given the Maldives deliverance from an autocracy. Wake up, and smell the theocracy that is in the air. Is it not sobering enough?
Wahhabism is in the Maldives to stay. Osama bin Laden made it clear that his ultimate aim is to establish an Islamic Caliphate across the globe. There are many who are willing to die for the cause, and many of them are now in the Maldives.
If the government continues to oscillate, gutless and indecisive, in the current manner, the Maldives could easily become the first member of this envisioned Caliphate. Twice now the government has changed its mind about bringing in new legislation regarding the sale of alcohol. Twice now it has back-tracked, citing ‘public opinion’. What is at stake here is not the availability or lack thereof of alcoholic beverages, but the ability of the current government to be a strong and capable leader of the nation.
Who is the ‘public’ that the government cited? The Wahhabi clerics? Has it come to the stage now where a Maldivian man is only a Maldivian man if he wears a bushy beard that covers his face?
Is a Maldivian woman only a Maldivian woman if she has covered herself from head to toe, or at least covered her hair with a Buruqa that complements the figure hugging PVC cat-suit she has on?
Is a Maldivian only a Maldivian if s/he is happy to listen to the Qur’an or some Dharus or another all day, every day?
Is a Maldivian only a Maldivian if s/he believes that women are inferior to men?
Is that the ‘public’? And what is ‘opinion’? Even if one does not buy into the elitist position that public opinion can never be informed enough for it to ensure that all democratic decisions are informed decisions, it is a valid question to ask of this government: what has informed this ‘opinion’ to which you have once again bowed? How has this ‘public’ arrived at this ‘opinion’ that has you so cowed?
Opinion, by definition, is a judgement or view based neither on fact nor knowledge. When the lack of knowledge is used by a particular group of people to ensure – through religious propaganda – that everyone holds the same view, what is expressed is not an opinion but dogma. Religious dogma.
The majority of Maldivian people are not free to think for themselves any more. After thirty years of being told what to do – from good table manners to good praying etiquette spelled out by the Great Leader – and being denied the opportunity to develop intellectually as free thinking people; the void where knowledge should have been is now being filled with unrelenting religious propaganda that saturates the Maldivian airwaves.
Every single medium of the various types available in the twenty first century is being utilised by these well-organised and well-funded Wahhabbis. They have numerous websites (dhiIslam.com; Dharuslive.com; Click4Islam.com; Raajjeislam.com; Islam Maldives; Dharuma.net to name but a few) and a strong presence on social networking sites and YouTube. They organise public sermons and lectures covering everything from Valentine’s Day to good husbandry and housekeeping. They fly in international scholars to preach their message and convince the youth that life is better lived after death.
To respond to this well-organised, well-oiled invasion of our country, this brutal rape of our identity in broad daylight, this daily negation of our rights under the name of Islam by suggesting that all ‘beloved citizens who might harbour what might be considered extremist ideas and opinions’ should perhaps ‘moderate and soften their ways of thinking’ makes President Nasheed look as effective a political leader as a newly crowned Miss World breathlessly avowing her goal to attain world peace.
‘Might’ harbour what ‘might’ be considered extremist ideas and opinions? Where is the doubt coming from about the extremism of their ideas? They are openly and clearly saying that women are inferior to men. They are indoctrinating Maldivians to believe that Wahhabbism is the only form of Islam that Allah recognises. Might be considered extremist?
Yes, public opinion is vital to democracy. There is, however, no system in place to effectively measure public opinion in the Maldives. There are no regular polls, no surveys, no studies to gauge what the public’s view of anything is. Nobody has their finger on the public pulse, just a hand around its throat.
Hiding behind the buzz words of democracy is not going to deliver Maldivians democracy – it may be rule by the people for the people, but it might well be worth remembering that people at religious boot camp with Wahhabbis may not have had the freedom to arrive at a considered opinion about anything of their own free will. ‘Freedom of opinion’ as a democratic right extends not just to freely expressing an opinion but to freely forming it as well.
Staggering from one side to the other (a foreign policy that finds allies in counter-terrorism; a domestic policy that is victim to an extremist Islamic sect) and bending over backwards to appease both sides while trying to stand upright; that kind of behaviour is far better suited to a public house than to the house that runs the public, would you not agree?
Munirah Moosa is a journalism and international relations graduate. She is currently engaged in research into the ‘radicalisation’ of Muslim communities and its impact on international security.
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