Comment: Extremism threatens our economy

We’ve heard in recent news government officials referring to rising fear of Islamic extremism in the Maldives.

We’ve heard about children not being vaccinated or not being sent to school in the name of religion; women being provided with a single bucket of water for the day, again in the respect of religious norms; children being restricted from music and other types of art; male children being forced to wear trousers shin high; schools threatened for asking male children to shave their beards; the classifying of many immaterial matters outright haraam such as smoking, watching movies or cartoons (Tom & Jerry, Mickey Mouse), singing, playing or listening to music, women travelling of women without a husband or family member, the showing of hair or wearing of perfume by women; or news and blogs promoting genital mutilation of females.

Another serious threat is the increased preaching of hatred against the west. The west (the majority of whom are understood to be Christians or Jews) is portrayed as the singular prime threat to the religious stability of the country.

This is a paramount danger to our economy given our dependence on foreign money. We should keep in mind that an act such as the one that happened at Sultans Park a few years ago could cripple our economy, slashing our foreign income.

Currently, the government is committing the Maldives to large contracts with foreign nations, with majority populations of Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and others. The Maldives is not self-sufficient and therefore we are at the mercy of other nations who are willing to ally with us and help us bear fruit. We cannot afford to live on the annual ration of a few tonnes of Saudi dates.

During recent years, many industries and public services are being capitalised on foreign investments. At such a time, how can we even allow the thought to draw a religious boundary around ourselves? We have been selling liquor and allowing illicit sex on all our resorts for almost 40 years because we cannot let religious boundaries starve us to death.

Our main politico-religious party is Adaalath Party, who also has its presence in the government sphere, ruling the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. They are assigned the responsibility of upholding the religion of the country – Islam – with a reported US$16 million budget.

Adaalath recently held one of their statutory meetings at a prominent public space (Alimas Stage). The whole meeting was aired live on Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation’s TV channel, MNBC one. The station is well known for its pro-government programming.

I was watching intently one of the speeches of this meeting. I found it really distasteful and offensive, to hear one of the famous preachers in the country, Sheikh Ilyas, known for being arrogant and blunt about religious statements.

He was saying that Muslims should not trust Christians or Jews in any way for they are not reliable on their word. He went on to say that any agreement made by them would never be kept. He mocked human rights and women’s rights as tools used to evade Islamic prudence. Every now and then he raised a copy of Quran above his head and said that he was presenting the word of God.

It is hard to imagine why the government, on one hand, is acknowledging the spreading extremism in the country, while at the same time is assigning public funds for the spreading of such extreme and radical ideologies.

The reason is that it is constitutional for the government to uphold and strengthen Islam as the religion of the country. And the government fulfils this part very smoothly: sets up a specific Ministry (the first religious ministry of the country), puts the leading religious political group in charge, and assigns a significant chunk of budget for their purpose.

Here is something the Ministry of Islamic Affairs published on their website (in local language), followed by a translation (by a blogger) during the Haiti disaster:

“Are there any Muslims in Haiti? Do we have to gain wisdom from this [disaster]? Haiti is a caribbean island nation, located not far from America. A certain number of Muslims live there. It is reported that they are not good people. There is no doubt about this; such earth quakes are moral lessons for everyone. Such [disasters] are caused by God because of the actions of mankind.”

Now, the public is at a loss for words. Those who are assigned the responsibility of upholding and strengthening Islam in the country, are advocating against the government’s policies and also promoting extremism. They are outright in saying that no deals should be made with infidels (such as Christians or Jews, who are not trustworthy as per God). They mock human rights and women’s rights in public.

It doesn’t take one to wonder, why this could happen? Why is the government apologetic about growing extremism but still allowing such things to preached in the public? Is our government crippled from doing anything about this?

Firstly, the Islamic Ministry was a promise the ruling party made during the elections. Protecting Islam was one of the major five promises of the ‘Other Maldives’ campaign. Since Adaalath sided with the MDP during the coalition to overthrow Gayoom’s dictatorship, MDP duly handed the reigns of the ministry to Adaalath. On top of this, our constitution demands our government promote and strengthen Islam. As such the government is carrying out their constitutional responsibilities.

Our constitution also says that Sharia is based on the Quran and those findings, judgments and rulings concurred by the majority of religious scholars. When the majority of the leading scholars of the country concur on hatred against Christians, Jews and other infidels, backed up by our Constitution, what should the government do instead of sleeping with the enemy? I think the government should change their partner, before its too late.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]

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Zakir Naik banned from entering UK to lecture on freedom of expression

The UK has banned Islamic speaker Dr Zakir Naik from entering the country, preventing him from giving a series of lectures in Sheffield and northern England on ‘Freedom of Expression: An Islamic Perspective’.

Dr Naik recently presented a series of lectures in the Maldives at the invitation of the Ministry for Islamic Affairs. One session in particular made headlines when Naik was confronted by a self-declared apostate, who later reconverted to Islam after two days of counselling in police custody.

News agency Reuters reported that Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May had barred Dr Naik from entering the country because “numerous comments made by Dr Naik are evidence to me of his unacceptable behavior.”

“Coming to the UK is a privilege not a right, and I am not willing to allow those who might not be conducive to the public good to enter,” she said.

The UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reported Ministry sources as saying the decision to refuse entry to Dr Naik was based on footage in 2006  in which he appeared to endorse terrorism against the United States: “If he [Osama Bin Laden] is terrorising the terrorists, if he is terrorising America the terrorist … I am with him. Every Muslim should be a terrorist,” Naik says in the clip.

Naik has argued that these comments were taken out of context, and has since issued a statement saying he “unequivocally condemns acts of violence including 9/11, 7/7 and 7/11 [the serial train bombing in Mumbai], which are completely and absolutely unjustifiable on any basis.”

The Telegraph also claimed Dr Naik had said Western women made themselves “more susceptible to rape” by wearing revealing clothing.

“Western society has actually degraded (women) to the status of concubines, mistresses and social butterflies, who are mere tools in the hands of pleasure seekers and sex marketeers,” the paper quoted him as saying.

One of the topics of Dr Naik’s planned speeches in the UK was ‘freedom of expression’, and the decision to deny him entry to the country has sparked vigorous debate in the UK among civil rights campaigners.

The Muslim Council of Britain has also expressed “grave concern” over the decision, with Secretary General  Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari stating that “this exclusion order demonstrates the double standards practised by the government concerning freedom of speech. While preachers of hate such as Geert Wilders are free to promote their bigotry in this country, respected Muslim scholars such as Dr Naik are refused entry to the UK under false pretences. It is deeply regrettable this is likely to cause serious damage to community cohesion in our country.”

A spokesman for Dr Naik told the BBC that the Home Ministry’s decision was “deeply regrettable” and that the UK had “bowed to pressure” from “certain groups” to exclude him.

He said Mr Naik had been holding talks in the UK for 15 years and the decision to bar his entry was “disappointing.”

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Comment: Oh, what a circus

Act One: A cure for apostasy

A medical doctor with no formal religious training takes centre stage as an Islamic scholar to tickle the Maldivian youth’s religious fancy.

One man questions his own faith and asks the scholar for his learned opinion on apostates. The good doctor diagnoses the man’s malady as possessing too much intellect – a condition that prevents belief cells from forming and developing in the brain. The doctor prescribes a specialist consultation with the ‘Non-Islamic-but-Muslim government’ for a remedy to his condition.

The government provides him with ‘counselling’, which proves to be just what the doctor ordered as, lo and behold, the man is cured within days. He apologises to his Muslim brethren who put away the swords they had unsheathed and enfold him in the warm embrace of their attar-scented hijabs. ‘Insha-Allah!’ cry the audience.

Act One, Scene Two: Modesty slips on banana

Enter Wife of a Preacher Man. Qualified to preach by default as spouse of a non-qualified Preacher, she warns her Maldivian sisters to cover up.

“Rape is your due if all ye sisters do not conform! For the men folk, they know not how to control their lust!” is the message.

Having wowed the audience with her compassion for the sisterhood, she exits the stage centre left. [Curtains close and open].

Wife of a Preacher Man is now straddling a blow-up banana with a throbbing engine. She rides it across the lagoon of a tourist resort where Western heathens lounge about in bikinis. “Look at me! I am covered up, and I can still ride a banana with modesty!”

In one of the Act’s most dramatic scenes, she falls. The set moves to a hospital. She remains silent throughout her treatment. A good patient never asks questions of a Doctor. Questions are the first symptom of that very dangerous disease: too much intellect, or as described in preacher/doctor vernacular – ‘extra-smartism’.

Act Two, Scene One: The measure of a judge

Enter a group of nine learned men, and one woman. They discuss the character and qualifications of those who should be allowed to sit in judgement of other Maldivians.

Known collectively as the Judicial Service Commission their task, as stated in Article 285 of the Constitution 2008, is to ensure all judges appointed prior to the new Constitution possess the qualifications necessary for a judge as stipulated in Article 149.

So far so boring? Do not underestimate this circus, though, for there is indeed an impressive twist to this plot.

The Chair of the Commission is also a Supreme Court Judge. And a fraudster! The then Anti-Corruption Board found him guilty of making false claims for overtime as a judge. His plea in mitigation behooves a man of such stature: any findings of the Anti-Corruption Board has no legal authority. Only a qualified judge, as his esteemed self, may pronounce a citizen guilty or not guilty. Ergo, he is innocent.

Act Two, Scene Two: Judgement day at the Commission

Eight of the ten members are present, and a draft of the standards to which Maldivian judiciary should be held is put to vote. Four vote in favour. Four against. A majority is declared. Huh? If there are four on one side and four on the other, does that not mean the two sides are equal? From whence cometh the majority?

It is yet another twist in the tale, audience! It turns out that one member realises – after the vote is taken – that he meant to abstain. Some members of the audience may be of the opinion that the intention to abstain is declared before a vote is cast. Were you not told underestimating this circus would be a mistake? The tricks here are mind-boggling.

The Standards, passed by a ‘majority’ of these most learned members ensures the Maldivian judiciary would include not just fraudsters found guilty-but-not-guilty, but also sexual offenders among other varieties. The unfolding scene is of a just and happy society where embezzlers, sex offenders and petty criminals all stand a good chance of being judged by an equal.

All rejoice at this exemplary egalitarianism. Cue a standing ovation from the audience.

Act Four: Bra burning lesbians

Enter Lesbians Disguised as Feminists. How brilliant is their costume that this discerning twenty-first century audience cannot tell the difference between the two groups. Most audiences of the last three decades had been able to make the distinction between them, but this one is fooled.

Not for long, though. One section of the audience, with just the right degree of religion-abiding smartness, is on to them. There and then, a truly daring exposé is performed. The Feminists are Lesbians! It is clear from their penchant for women’s underwear.

Come on, audience, put your thinking hats on: Feminists + women’s underwear = Lesbians. Consider this: they sent the underwear to a male Muslim scholar. On Valentines Day. That particular Lesbian fetish for sending underwear to male Muslim scholars is the missing clue here, dear Watson. Feminists = Lesbians = Sissy Nation.

Bring them out from their underground holes and flog them before they plait and tie pink bows to the beards that proudly proclaim Maldivian patriarchy to the world. “Aaaah!”, enlightened, the audience sighs contentedly as the curtains close. Blessed are we to have Adhaalath among us.

Forthcoming attractions: Angels & kangaroos

The Ringmaster, or he who thinks he is the ringmaster, is away with kangaroos of a different sort to those at this own court. Meanwhile, the real Ringmasters prepare for a new act that will make the audience cheer and applaud even more than they did at the Biggest Event Ever of last month on any of the above acts.

A preacher with the name of an angel and a message of true divinity (which some – clearly deluded and ignorant – critics have described as one of hate) will take centre stage shortly.

All Muslim brothers and sisters, recently restored to your glorious 100 per cent Muslim status, are invited to attend. Dress code: Hijab and beards for men; Full Buruqa preferred for women. [Leave Buruqas off at your own risk].

It is also advisable to leave most grey matter behind. Extra-Smartness is strictly forbidden.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]

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Apostate publicly repents and rejoins Islam, after counselling

A Maldivian man who publicly declared himself an apostate during a speech by Islamic speaker Dr Zakir Naik on Friday evening has repented and offered a public apology on Television Maldives (TVM).

Mohamed Nazim gave Shahada – the Muslim testimony of belief – during a press conference held at the Islamic Ministry today.

He also apologised for causing “agony for the Maldivian people”, and said “major misconceptions I had regarding Islam have been clarified.”

He further requested that the community accept him back into society.

After describing himself to Dr Naik as “Maldivian but not a Muslim” on Friday night, Nazim was escorted from Maafaanu stadium by Islamic Ministry officials into police custody. Several officers were attacked for trying to protect Nazim when members of the crowd turned violent, calling for his death.

The following day the Islamic Foundation NGO issued a press release calling for Nazim to be executed under Islamic law if he failed to repent.

Apostasy is considered a grave sin under Islam, although scholarly opinion varies as to its punishment: in response to Nazim’s question, Dr Naik clarifed that the penalty was only death “if the person becomes a non-Muslim and propagates his faith and speaks against Islam. Just because a person who is a Muslim becomes a non-Muslim, death penalty is not the ruling.”

Speaking after the press conference today, Deputy Minister for Islamic Affairs Sheikh Mohamed Farooq told newspaper Haveeru that Nazim had reverted to Islam “on freewill” after the Ministry had sent two scholars to counsel him while he was in custody.

“[After] two days of counseling he said that his misconceptions had been clarified and that he wanted to become a Muslim,” Sheikh Farooq told Haveeru.

President of Islamic NGO Jammiyyathu Salaf Sheikh Abdulla Bin Mohamed Ibrahim told Minivan News he was very happy to hear of Nazim’s repentance and thanked God, adding that incident has “damaged the good name of the country.”

He further said that there were “many people trying to introduce other religions to the Maldives underground”, and that he would “release the names of these underground people at the appropriate time.”

”The incident was the result of a lack of Islamic studies in the school curriculum,” he said. ”That is one of the reasons why such things as this happen.”

The Adhaalath Party said it welcomed Nazim’s repentance and congratulated him for re-embracing Islam.

Police have meanwhile yet to reveal whether Nazim has been released from custody.

Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said the court had decided that Nazim should be released, but he would not reveal whether police had yet done so.

“Police will analyse the situation,” Shiyam said, regarding Nazim’s safety.

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Zakir Naik to give lecture in Colombo

Islamic speaker, Zakir Naik, will address Sugathadasa Stadium in Colombo, reports Miadhu.

Organisers said they expect around 50,000 people, adding many Maldivians living in Colombo will attend.

Naik, a medical doctor trained in Mumbai, will be transported in a helicopter and his lecture will be opened by Governor of the Western Province, Alawi Wauluana.

Organisers said the Colombo lecture will run for about four hours and the Sri Lankan government is providing security in the stadium and surrounding areas.

Naik has been invited to speak in the Maldives, but his original lecture was postponed. Naik is now scheduled to appear at the end of the month.

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Comment: Such is this mob rule called ‘democracy’

The freedom to think, which we Maldivians claimed for ourselves by ousting a dictatorial government and replacing it with a ‘democratic’ one, appears to have rendered us incapable of rational thought.

There appears not a single principle that is not up for auction in the market of ‘public opinion’. Everything from our faith to our humanity carry with them a political price tag. At the helm is a government which oscillates so wildly between the political right and the left that any keen observer would suffer more repetitive strain injury to the neck than a spectator at a Wimbledon tennis final.

Take for instance the decisions by the Youth Ministry first to maybe-allow, then to disallow and then to definitely-allow, the Muslim televangelist, Dr Zakir Naik, to provide Maldivians with The Biggest Event of their lifetimes.

The latest decision, perhaps by no means the last, must have been arrived at after much soul-searching and in-depth analysis. It must, no doubt, have taken into account the experience of another country where sports grounds were taken over for ‘religious activities’. The Taliban turned Kabul’s main stadium into a hub for ‘religious devotion’, treating their masses to spectacles of execution, death by stoning, hanging and amputations. No doubt the audience departed much enlightened about ‘true Islam’.

Public opinion is a tricky idol at the altar of which to worship. The government must be perplexed at the opposition to its agreement with the United States to relocate some of the ‘Enemy Combatants’ or ‘Illegal Detainees’ from Guantanamo Bay to the Maldives. Why is a society that is so eager to stress its Islamic purity, and promotes its ‘100 percent Muslim’ status with the same zeal as a restaurant promoting a coveted Michelin star, opposed to relocating to their lands these people who have been so utterly wronged by the United States? Did not the eminent Dr Naik himself assert that the 11 September 2001 attacks were an ‘inside job’? By this very learned logic alone, these detainees can be nothing but innocent.

The opposition, however, is not willing to pay any heed – either to the venerable Dr Naik or to empirical evidence. Hosting these ‘convicts’, they cry, would make our country ‘a target’.

No thought is spared to consider:

(a) for a person to be labelled a ‘convict’, they need to first be convicted of an offence defined by law. Most of the detainees have never been charged with a crime let alone convicted of one.

(b) If they were ‘terrorists’, why would then a terrorist organisation attack us for sheltering them? Should they not, by the same logic, then be beholden to us?

(c) No country, other than the United States, has ever attacked another for ‘harbouring terrorists’. And, in light of the disaster that has been the ‘War on Terror’, no government is likely to disregard (or be allowed to disregard) international law again – at least in living memory – to the extent that the neo-conservative Bush government did.

Now the new US government is seeking to relocate these victims of one of the gravest miscarriages of justice in modern history. We are hardly going to be top of President Obama’s list of countries to attack next by ‘harbouring’ them.

“Even a country like the United States would not take them,” cries the opposition.

Even a country like the United States? Is this the extent of our liberalism? That we assume that any Western democracy is right, no matter how obviously wrong it is?

‘Public opinion’ – yes, that old chestnut again – and a highly right wing and conservative establishment are preventing President Obama’s government from closing the atrocity that is Guantanamo Bay. The ignorance of a vast majority of the American public, whose fears the Bush administration played like a maestro does an orchestra and are held aloft at a crescendo by Fox News, that bastion of balanced journalism, are now being uncannily echoed in the national theatre of Maldivian ‘public opinion’.

“We have not been told anything! We don’t know why they are in prison!” The opposition is hysterical, claiming to have been left “totally in the dark”.

It is hardly the government’s business to plug the gaping holes of ignorance in the opposition’s knowledge. Over 700 of the 50,000 ‘Enemy Combatants’ that the US apprehended in their War on Terror have been held in Guantanamo Bay. A vast majority of them are innocent. Information on how they were treated in US captivity is widely and easily available in the global public domain from the legal memos that deprived the Detainees of the Geneva Convention to those that redefined ‘torture’ as ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ to detailed prison logs that demonstrate what these innocent victims were put through in the name of ‘intelligence gathering’.

Profiles of over 500 detainees held at Guantanamo, diligently compiled by law professor and counsel to two detainees, Mark Denbeaux of Seton Law Hall, are also available for public perusal should one care to concern oneself with such minor details, in addition to the profiles compiled by Cage prisoners.

Given that the number of detainees currently being held at Guantanamo is 181, this information would contain within it details relating to the unfortunate souls destined for the Maldives to find ‘sanctuary’ among their ‘100 percent Muslim’ brothers and sisters.

Deliberate ignorance does not justify selling our humanity for the dubious pleasures of political gainsaying.

It is well and good for the government to advise those agitating against these dogmatic opinions and beliefs to organise themselves and form a viable alternative to the blatant evangelism of the religious right. This, however, becomes near impossible if the government remains unclear where it stands, and vacillates from one end of the political spectrum to the other in any given week.

There is a reason why liberal Maldivians cannot form a coherent whole in their own country – the space in which their ideas can flourish diminishes by the day as the government gives in inch by inch, and the extreme religious right takes mile after mile.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]

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Youth Ministry concedes football ground for Zakir Naik event

Minister for Human Resources and Youth, Hassan Latheef, has agreed to release the  Maafaanu football grounds to the Islamic Ministry to host visiting Islamic scholar Zakir Naiks’s sermon.

The decision comes after Latheef said yesterday that the venue requested was ”only for football’,’ and would dishearten the youth who practice football there every day.

Latheef said that the decision was made yesterday ”despite the difficulties.”

”It was very, very difficult to release the land for any purpose other than sport and music,” Latheef said, ”but we have decided to give that land as the Islamic Ministry has requested.”

Latheef said the football ground will be given to the Islamic Ministry for three days.

”This type of land belongs to the Youth Ministry,” he noted. ”We have drafted a law that determines which place can be used for what purpose.”

Spokesperson for the Islamic Ministry, Sheikh Ahmadulla, said that the ministry was writing a letter to the Youth Ministry to confirm the decision.

”We also heard the Youth Minister saying that in a television programme,” Sheikh Ahmadulla said, adding ”we will send a letter to the Youth Ministry asking for the confirmation.”

Press Secretary for the President, Mohamed Zuhair, said that the land was used by youth to play football every day and the minister was concerned about social issues that might be raised due to the restriction of the grounds during the days of the lectures.

”But now they decided to give the land because the Islamic Ministry, after checking several venues, said that the requested football ground was the best,” Zuhair said.

”This is a time where all the Islamic NGO’s are acting in a very competitive spirit, with one NGO trying to hold a bigger event than the other,” Zuhair said. ”It will be very difficult if everyone starts requesting such land for other purposes.”

Zuhair said that there is now another request by a religious NGO to use the Galolhu National Stadium.

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Zakir Naik venue “only for football”, says Youth Ministry

The Youth Ministry has denied the Islamic Ministry use of the Maafaanu football ground for the sermons of visiting Islamic scholar Zakir Naik.

Minister for Youth Hassan Latheef said that the ground was a football stadium which was used by many young people every day, ”so it is very difficult to give that land.”

Latheef said that if the ground was given for the sermon then “others” will also start requesting use of the venue.

”That land cannot be given to do anything other than football,” Latheef said. ”If you take a look, you can see people playing everywhere, in the middle, sides and outside also.”

Latheef said that the Youth Ministry was now speaking with the Islamic Ministry to see if they would like to have the ‘Alimas’ Carnival Stage instead.

”We spoke with the Municipality council and they said the carnival stage was possible,” Latheef said, ”but the Islamic ministry said that land was not large enough.”

He said the Islamic Minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari had telephoned him while he was out of the country, ” and told me the Islamic Ministry was hosting a sermon by Zakir Naik and asked if the football ground was possible,” Latheef said. ”I said yes, let’s see whether it is possible.”

He said the Ministry has now received another request from a religious group requesting the Galolhu national stadium for a religious event.

State minister for Islamic Affairs Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed said that the Youth Ministry had recently told him that the football ground was available, but now denied it.

”Later they said it was a land only for entertainment purposes,” Shaheem said.

He said the Islamic Ministry was now searching for another venue to host the event and would announce it very soon, but he noted that the carnival stage was not big enough for the expected turnout. The Islamic Ministry has previously claimed that Naik’s visit will be the biggest event ever hosted in the Maldives.

”There are many challenges that we face,” Shaheem said, ”from many people and in many ways. I want to tell everyone that by God’s will we will host the event – everyone be patient and don’t commit any violence,” he said.

The Adhaalath party meanwhile expressed anger over the issue on their English language website, noting that the Islamic Ministry “has spent a large amount of money to print posters mentioning the stadium grounds as the venue.”

“The decision of the Youth Ministry not to give the stadium grounds for holding the lecture event will only add to the piles of questions about this government’s loyalty to the religion of this nation,” the party said, in a recent post.

“The pretext given was that they cannot do without the ball for one whole week. The youth who play there may not like it. What about the thousands of Maldivians who want the event to be held in the most spacious and suitable ground available? Don’t their feelings count?”

“The irony is that the majority of the people who will be attending Dr Zakir’s lecture will be youth,” the party said.

“Such blatant acts of obstruction to Islamic activities will only help in further plummeting the popularity of this government. It would appear that this is a ‘tit for tat’ by the secular minded people in the establishment because the Islamic Ministry and many citizens of this country criticised the Akon concert.

“What these people do not realize is that the people of Maldives are watching. Everyday their actions are exposing them for what they are: men who don’t care about the wishes of the vast majority of Maldivians. They continually forget that this is a Muslim country. They have very little, if any, loyalty to Islam and the nation.”

President of Adhaalath Party Sheikh Hussain Rasheed told Minivan News that the land “should be given equally to everyone.”

”The Youth Ministry just don’t like it because it is religious event,” Sheikh Rasheed claimed.

Sheikh Rasheed said that there would also be youths attending the event.

”I just want to thank the youth ministry for raising this as an issue and campaigning like this,” he said. ”Before we were expecting 10,000 people for the event, but now we are expecting 20,000.”

Speaking in a press conference on decentralisation today, President Mohamed Nasheed said the government would endeavour to provide a venue for the event, “and there is no doubt about that.”

“There is freedom of expression in this country and people should be able to express their viewpoints within the basic boundries of our law, so we have to find a venue for them,” he said.

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Islamic speaker Zakir Naik to visit Maldives

World famous Islamic speaker Zakir Naik has confirmed he will visit the Maldives from 28-30 April upon an invitation from the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, reports Miadhu.

Naik, his wife and child are to deliver speeches according to Sheikh Farooq and the chance to ask questions will be given.

Naik is the president and founder of religious NGO the Islamic Research Foundation, which also owns Mumbai-based TV channel Peace TV.

The Indian national is a medical doctor and has become one of the most renowned speakers of Islam and comparative religion.

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