Elections Commission warns Adhaalath Party over political abuse of Islam

The Election Commission (EC) has sent a formal letter of warning to the religious conservative Adhaalath Party, stating that the commission would take action should the party continue violating the Political Parties Act – the parent legislation upon which all political parties are founded.

Speaking to local media, Adhaalath Party Spokesperson Ali Zahir confirmed to local media that the party had received the letter.

Zahir said that the EC, in the letter signed by the Vice Chair of Elections Commission Ahmed Fayaz and addressed to the President of Adhaalath Party Sheikh Imran Abdulla, the commission condemned remarks made by the members of the party during a rally held at the Jumhoree Party’s campaign headquarters at Maafannu Kunooz.

The Adhaalath Party, along with the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) and the Jumhoree Party (JP) formed an umbrella coalition to back JP Leader and resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim in the presidential election. However, following the defeat in the election, both the DQP and the Adhaalath have joined the JP’s contention that the election had been rigged in favor of both the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

According to Zahir, the EC claimed that Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran’s speech during the rally could lead to chaos and ‘fitnah’ among the society.

The commission in the letter noted that the High Court could order the dissolution of a political party should the party attempt to incite hate and violence among the people, said Zahir.

Sheikh Imran during the speech claimed that the Jumhoree coalition would not accept the results of the scheduled run-off election, regardless of who won it. The Adhaalath party claimed that the dissenting remarks were made against the EC after it announced it would take action against the party for labelling opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters ‘Laadheenee’ (Anti-Islamic).

The rally eventually turned into a protest as the JP supporters gathered outside the residence of the EC Chair Fuwad Thowfeek calling for his resignation. The protesters maintained that last Saturday’s election had been rigged in favor of PPM and MDP.

The EC during a press conference on Tuesday announced that legal action would be taken against those political parties who sought to deploy Islam as a political weapon.

“The EC will do everything it can to take legal action against those who use Islam as a political weapon by labeling others as impious,” said the Vice Chair of EC Ahmed Fayaz. “This is a duty of the commission.”

Fayaz noted that Islam cannot be “hijacked” or “held hostage” by one particular group or political party.

“Because the Political Parties Act states that no one can use Islam as a political weapon”, the courts would be asked to dissolve any political party that is guilty of violating the law, said Fayaz.

Legal action would also be taken against people who “insult” or “disrespect” Islam, he added.

Speaking to Minivan News on Tuesday about the threats of violence, Chair of EC Fuwad Thowfeek responded saying that “it is very sad – especially [coming from] big political parties and some with them, like Sheikh Imran [Abdulla], President of the Adhaalath Party, who spoke in an uncivilised manner. It’s a pity political parties are behaving in that manner.”

“Human beings are given the mental ability to think. That is how you know to distinguish right and wrong. I think what is happening here is someone has gone insane. When you lose your brain these things happen,” EC Vice Chair Ahmed Fayaz was quoted as saying by local media outlet CNM.

“I have not done anything wrong. If I had done something wrong I would resign immediately,” Fayaz continued. “I wouldn’t wait until any state institution comes up and says that I breached the law. I’m not worried about security. You only die once,” he added.

The Adhaalath Party meanwhile questioned the motive of EC claiming that it was the only party who had received the letter from the commission while several other political parties had also criticized the commission.

“We also believe that action must be taken against political parties that violate the Political Parties Act. But it should be done in the right order. They should first take action against those who had breached the law first before coming to us,” said Ali Zahir.

Minivan News tried contacting both Chair of EC Fuwad Thowfeek and Vice Chair Ahmed Fayaz, but were not responding to calls at time of press.