The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has expressed its alarm at the use of extremist Islamic rhetoric at the heart of the governing regime, including on the part of Mohamed Dr. Waheed who appears increasingly beholden to religious groups and known extremists. The MDP said that there is now a clear pattern whereby supporters of the former autocratic president, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, are using claims of internal and external threats against Islam as a means of reasserting political control. There is now a very real threat of the democratic gains of the last few years being rolled back.
At a pro-regime rally held yesterday (Friday 24th February) in Male, Dr. Dr. Waheed, who heads the illegitimate government following the overthrow of the democratically elected President, used strident religious rhetoric time and again to energize the crowd.
“We are prepared to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of this country. We are not afraid to become martyrs” said Dr. Waheed. “There is no room here for people who destroy the economy in this country. We will not back down even one inch. God willed this change. You are the Mujaheddin of this State”. He also claimed that he and his supporters “will defend this nation with the last drop of our blood” and statedthat “foreign countries cannot influence this nation”. Earlier, in a press release from the President’s Office, Dr. Waheed lashed out at those in MDP who had “slandered the Maldives in the international community” calling them “the enemies of the country” and “the real traitors”.
Perceived attacks on Muslims and Islam from both inside and outside the country was the main theme throughout the pro-government rally.
Sheikh Imran, president of the religious Adhaalath Party and a man who has in the past called for a Jihad against the MDP Government and its supporters and for “the slaughter of anyone against Islam”, said: “They are [now] on their knees in front of their constitution as a result of their attempt to get rid of Islam from the Maldives”; while Gasim Ibrahim, a leading financial backer of the new regime, called MDP supporters “mentally disabled”, and said “we are ready to sacrifice everything for Dr. Waheed”.
Other key figures addressing the crowd yesterday were the leader of the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) Dr. Hassan Saeed, Attorney-General under former President Gayoom and now advisor to the President at the President’s Office; and Deputy Leader of DQP, Dr. Jameel, former justice Minister under President Gayoom Administration and now Home Minister.
Saeed, Jameel and their DQP party were the authors, earlier this year, of a political pamphlet, dubbed by the media as “the pamphlet of hate”, in which they invoked perceived attacks against Islam in the Maldives, especially by “Christians and Jews”.
According to Saeed and Jameel’s pamphlet: “When the Nasheed administration established diplomatic relations with the biggest enemy of Islam [Israel], the government agreed to change the school curriculum and teach our small children about the goodness of Jews”. They also claimed that “the Jew’s plan and way of thinking is to divide Islamic countries”, that MDP government officials are secret “Christian priests”.
The political parties of Dr. Dr. Waheed, Imran, Saeed and Jameel have only one parliamentary seat between them (for DQP).
Meanwhile, in a parallel protest in the capital Male, a larger gathering of MDP supporters offered an alternate future for the Maldives – one based on tolerance, human rights and equality for all. The rally began with a women’s march in which they protested against their disenfranchisement after their elected President was deposed by force, promised to re-establish democracy, argued in favour of equal rights for women, and rejected government moves towards establishing a theocracy in the country. The MDP rally in which men and women, young and old, mingled together, focused on calls for justice, human rights and the resolution of the current crisis through early elections.
“Never has the dividing line been clearer between those who believe in democracy and tolerance – namely the MDP; and those who believe in power through force and religious dogma – namely Dr. Dr. Waheed and his pro-Gayoom followers”, said MDP’s international spokesperson, Hamid Abdul Ghafoor.
Hamid Abdul Ghafoor
Spokesperson, International Affairs