The Criminal Court has granted a warrant for police to obtain the email and IP address of a Minivan News commentator accused of “violating Islamic principles”.
In a letter signed by Police Inspector Moosa Ali, Head of Fraud and Financial Crime, states that a case was filed at police regarding the commentator’s use of the identity ‘Maai Allah’, and requests Minivan News provide the email and IP address for the investigation.
The letter also asks Minivan News to remove the comment, located on a story dated November 28 titled: ‘Government “cynically used xenophobia, nationalism and religious extremism” to attack foreign investor: former President’.
“As you know, the Maldives is a 100 percent Muslim nation and as no human being has been empowered to take for himself the almighty status using the name of Allah, and as this is insulting to the noble name of Holy Allah and undermines noble Islamic principles or tenets, we require information of the person who made this comment for our investigation,’’ the letter stated.
‘Maai’ is the Dhivehi word for ‘holy’.
The accompanying court warrant was signed by the Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed, and issued in connection with a case filed by the Cyber Policing Department of the Maldives Police Service.
Minivan News understands that this the first time police have requested the details of an internet commentator in connection with a case filed on religious grounds.
As a Maldives-registered media outlet Minivan News has complied with the warrant and removed the comment as obliged under Maldivian law. The particular IP address requested by police is registered in a foreign country.
Police informed Minivan News that the case was filed by religious NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf.
The serving of the court warrant follows a statement released by religious Adhaalath Party on December 3 stating that “approving and publishing such comments is a failure to properly fulfill the responsibilities of journalism”, and “calling on the person who wrote the comment and who published it to repent and reform [themselves].”
“A person has commented on Minivan News, a newspaper published online in the country, claiming to be Allah. This is something that involves a serious wrong in it. The reason is because the phrase ‘Allah’ refers to the name of Creator Allah, whom Muslims pray to, seek strength from and whom people find peace in their hearts by praising. Therefore, no human can say I am ‘Maai Allah’ [Holy God]. [They should] instead say ‘Abdullah’ or ‘slave of Allah’,” the party explained.
“If the intention of the person who wrote the comment was to characterise himself as a Khaleefa [steward] of God, that too is a serious wrong. The reason is because all things were created by Allah. And all things are possessed by Allah. Nothing escapes the knowing or possession of the deity. Therefore, only Allah would know whom he would appoint a steward on this earth. A person cannot claim on his own that he is the ‘steward of Allah’.”
“As such problems are a recurring one in the aforementioned newspaper, we urge the relevant authorities to investigate this and take action,” the party urged.
A media monitoring report by Transparency Maldives published in December 2011 found that Minian News’ coverage of the Adhaalath Party was 100 percent positive.
Editor of Minivan News JJ Robinson said:
“Whistle-blowers entering a source relationship with a journalist for a story in the public interest are entitled to legal protection from identification under the Maldivian Constitution. However without a prior journalist-source agreement commentators have no such protection, and need to be aware that under Maldivian law news websites registered in the country cannot guarantee the publication of comments, or anonymity.”
“A platform such as Minivan News is no more accountable for the opinions and statements of its readers than an internet service provider (ISP) is for the content viewed by its subscribers, yet under Maldivian law is obliged to remove comments where advised by relevant authorities,” Robinson said.