President defends traditional Maldivian Islam as parliament endorses Bari as Islamic Minister

The parliament has approved the reappointment of Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari as Minister for Islamic Affairs, in a narrow vote 38 in favour 35 against.

Dr Bari was first appointed to the position under a coalition agreement made between the government and the religious Adhaalath Party, resigned on the party’s request after it made the decision to break the agreement t over the government’s religious policy.

Opposition parties have earlier said their MPs in the parliament would  not vote in favor of Dr Bari and that he would be dismissed. A parliament committee that looked into the issue has meanwhile dismissed his reappointment and will submit a report on the matter.

Adhaalath made a further move today to sever its connection with the government, dismissing its former President and current State Islamic Minister Sheikh Hussein Rasheed. Sheikh Hussein had been also asked to resign by the party following its split with the MDP, but had elected to remain in the government.

Speaking to Minivan News, Sheikh Hussein said that he had received a letter from the Adhaalath Party yesterday informing him that he had been dismissed from the party for acting against the party’s ideas.

”The people will know the work I have done for Adhaalath Party,” he said. “When the party was first established there was no one that had the courage to take the lead so I did. No one had the courage to go and take the party registration form but I went and took it,” Sheikh Rasheed explained. ”That was the time when the former President and scholars were under great influence and threat of being imprisoned.”

Now, he said, the party was under the influence of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Sheikh Hussein said the VTV television station, owned by opposition-aligned MP and tourism tycoon Gasim Ibrahim, had reported his dismissal from the Adhaalath Party before the decision had even been taken by the disciplinary committee.

He said that when the party asked him to resign from his position, he only told the party his view on the matter.

“Dr Bari and I are working independently in the Ministry, free from influence,” he said. ”If I If I have violated any regulations there will be actions taken, but the party’s Disciplinary Committee needs to be investigated first.”

”We created the party with a very good intention. It was to go forward with the country and citizens and to serve the religion. But that is not the direction in which that party is moving now,” he said.

Sheikh Hussein said he had not yet decided to join another party, and was currently awaiting word from the Elections Commission on the matter.

Dr Bari and President of Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.

Government stands up

President Mohamed Nasheed has meanwhile defended Islam and Maldivian culture and traditions, ahead of an opposition-backed religious protest on December 23. The website promoting the protest briefly called for the “slaughter” of “anyone against Islam”, slogans which were subsequently removed and blamed on a “technical mistake”, “hackers” and later, “intelligence officials”.

Nasheed has claimed that religious protesters are trying to implement Islamic Sharia penalties such as stoning, amputation and execution – penalties which have traditionally been pardoned by the Maldivian judicial system.

Speaking at a rally held on Saturday evening, Nasheed defended traditional cultural practices such as playing and listening to music and the role of women in society, noting that “women have been in the Maldivian workforce as long as men.”

He  called on political parties to publicly state which form of Islam they supported: “the Islam we have been practicing in this country for several hundred years, or a new faction of Islam.”

Protest organisers President of the Adhaalath Party Sheikh Imran Abdullah, and Abdullah Mohamed, head of a coalition of religious NGOs organising the protest, were questioned by police on December 13.
Press Secretary of the President’s Office, Mohamed Zuhair, today claimed that “former President Gayoom, the Adhaalath Party and religious extremists are whipping up hatred, intolerance and xenophobia for political purposes. They hope to topple the government from the streets because they can’t defeat it through the ballot box.”

Islamic Ministry denies receiving anti-gambling petition over US Green Card Lottery

The Islamic Ministry has denied knowledge of a petition reportedly submitted to the ministry demanding a stop to the US Green Card Lottery Program in the Maldives.

The program provides 55,000 ‘green card’ immigration visas to people around the world each year as a means of diversifying immigration to the US. The US Embassy recently held an information session on the program in Male’.

Several media outlets and local religious websites have reported that the petition signed by 107 persons requesting a stop to the green card program was submitted to the Islamic Ministry yesterday.

Media reports said the petition stated that the Green Card program had “hidden objectives”, and “added to the chain of activities conducted in the Maldives by non-muslims to promote gambling.”

State Islamic Minister Sheikh Hussein Rasheed Ahmed and the ministry’s Permanent Secretary Mohamed Didi both said they had no information about a petition being submitted to the Ministry against the US Green Card Lottery Program.

“I do not know whether it was submitted to the Ministry,” said Didi. “I am not saying that it was not submitted to the Ministry,” he added.

“If the petition was submitted directly to the Minister then I might not have received it yet.”


Gaddafi is “a wicked, cruel, evil man”: Former State Islamic Minister

Former State Islamic Minister and member of the Adhaalath Party Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed has called on the international community to help stop the “violent inhumane actions” of Muammar-al-Gaddafi.

”Gaddafi is wicked evil man whose cruelty has reached to an extreme level,” said Sheikh Shaheem in a statement. ”He has used excessive force over the citizens of Libya.”

Sheikh Shaheem said that today all the Muslims should pray for the citizens of Libya, ”and should pray that he gets destroyed by his own evil actions.”

Prominent scholars in Palestine, Sudan, Egypt and other religious councils have consistently condemned the actions of Gaddafi, said Sheikh Shaheem.

”Some scholars have permitted [to have] his blood due to his evil actions,” he said. ”And I would like to take this opportunity to assure the citizens of Libya that we are with them.”

He called on the international community on behalf of the Adhaalath Party to help the citizens of Libya.

Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed yesterday also called on the international community to “strengthen measures to realise the aspirations of the Libyan people to fundamental rights and freedoms.”

“The right not to be tortured, the freedom to speak your mind, the ability to choose your own government… these liberties are not the preserve of Western nations but universal values to which everyone aspires,” Nasheed said. “These are the forces that are being played out on the streets of Libya and other countries of the Middle East.”

The Foreign Ministry has lost contact with six Maldivians in Libya, although it has not received reports of any injuries.

“We were checking on their condition until yesterday when we were unable to contact them via phone. Their phones would not ring, either,” a Foreign Ministry official told newspaper Haveeru.

“We are trying to contact them and are looking into any possible way that we could contact them through Dhiraagu. We are also trying to contact the Maldivians through an embassy in Libya of a friendly nation.”

The Libyan President yesterday vowed on national television that he will not step down from the country’s leadership, and was ready “to die a martyr.”

Speaking in the third person, Gaddafi said “I am not going to leave this land. I shall remain, defiant. Muammar is leader of the revolution until the end of time.”

US President Barack Obama has meanwhile broken his silence over the Libyan situation and outright condemned Gaddafi’s tactic of using violence against the demonstrators. The US President has sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Europe to attend a meeting of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous and it is unacceptable. So are threats and orders to shoot peaceful protesters and further punish the people of Libya. These actions violate international norms and every standard of common decency. This violence must stop,” said President Obama said.

Minivan News has meanwhile obtained a copy of Gaddafi’s ‘Little Green Book’, entitled “The Solution of the Problem of Democracy”, copies of which were reportedly gifted to a generation of Maldivian school students under former Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.


Fiqh academy to reprint an amended version of Quran translation

State Islamic minister Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed has said the ministry’s Fiqh academy will reprint an amended version of the Dhivehi translation of the Holy Quran.

“We discovered there were 180 symbols missing in the current translation, and verses of some Surahs were disordered,” Sheikh Shaheem said.

“The current translation was a version made with the assistance of a scholar’s council appointed by the former government, therefore the Fiqh academy will not invalidate the current version, but will rather reprint an amended version,’’ said Sheikh Shaheem.

Shaheem said as Quran was holy it should be well protected.

“If the incorrect version is not amended it could potentially lead to confusion in the long run,’’ he suggested.

In June last year the ministry sent a letter to the president’s office requesting the copyright of the current translation, which is required in order to reprint the translation.

“But the president’s office replied that they could provide us the copyright – it’s funny though, because everything related to religion is supposed to be kept under the Islamic Ministry,’’ Shaheem said. “We do not know when we will be able to start the [reprinting], until we get the copyright.’’

Press Secretary for the President, Mohamed Zuhair, was unavailable for comment at time of press.