Thursday, March 19, 2009

Should the Islamic ministry be sued?

The Maldives constitution guarantees the freedom of expression of its citizens except when it's against the tenets of Islam. The banning of raajjeislam.com, which promotes Islam, therefore, may be a violation of the constitution and the owners of the website could profitably sue both the Islamic ministry and the telecommunication authority.

This is not the first time that Adhaalath hardliners have acted unconstitutionally. Last year Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari claimed that a woman could not become a ruler of this country because it would be "directly against Islam". 

In fact a Saudi government paper presented at a UN conference on women in 1996 stated: "There is absolutely nothing in the Quran which directly or indirectly forbids a woman to become the head of a state or even suggests that she is essentially incompetent for the position." 

Not only, then, is Bari's view not shared by more reliable authorities on Islam, his statement is directly against the constitution. When Bari made the remark the new constitution had already been ratified and, and not even the efforts by MDP's resident hardliner BA Naseem, could reverse the rights of Maldivian women to take up the top job.

And then there was the anti-music video, produced by erstwhile pop singer Ali Rameez's Jamiyathul Salaf, an organisation known to spread misogyny in the Maldives in the name of Islam. Ali Rameez, the biggest success story of the Wahhabi infiltration into Maldivian culture, managed to convince key Adhaalath players to proclaim music was haraam.  But liberal scholars claim that no sound hadith concerning the prohibition of music exists, and point out that some companions of the Prophet as well as second generation Muslims listened to music and did not see anything wrong in it. Since it cannot be firmly established that music is against the tenets of Islam, the attempts by the Adhaalath and the washed-out pop singer to curtail creative freedom and expression can only be regarded as unconstitutional. 

Interestingly, the Maldives human rights commission has remained silent on the issue of censorship and the currents debates surrounding the actions of the Islamic ministry. In fact one of the people deriding music in the Salafiyya video was a member of that commission. How he managed to employed by the human rights commission is anybody's guess.

Some people have been suggesting that president Anni is playing a shrewd game here: allowing those in the Islamic ministry to slowly destroy themselves in the eyes of the public. But it should be noted that not once has Anni backed women or defended freedom of expression against the religious right. Indeed, MDP members habitually mock and undermine liberal Islamic scholars, notably Gubad Abu Bakr and Afrasheem Ali, who can and have defeated the Adhaalath "shekhs" at numerous religious debates. The truth is that Gayoom got all the best, forward thinking religious scholars, while Anni was saddled with the dubious ones, who may well derail the democratic process that Maldivians have fought for so long. The Adhaalath have also proved to be an embarrassment to Anni's government as it courts international support.

I know some Maldivians who said that once we'd got rid of Gayoom, they would initiate legal proceedings against Adhaalath, and others, for their proven record of acts and statements against the constitution.

Now may be the time for this.


6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Constitution itself is unconstitutional. rubbish im talking eh! NO think about it. All Maldivians are Sunni Moslems its mentioned in the constitution. But its a lie! You can not be a Maldivian unless you are a sunni moslem. How on earth can you even consider this as a constitution which has already breached the fundamental freedom of faith and labeled you as a Moslem. I seriously would prefer to not be born here if i had known my faith and destiny was already determined by the constitution. Hogwash!

As for adalath, it is the Halak of our society. Since them, things has gone bad to worse. But i also do not believe in moderatism as a practice. Faith should be considered COMPLETELY a personal thing. NO NO! not my parents', my teacher, my friend or President can tell me what to believe and what not! thats fundamentally wrong.

Anonymous said...

I can choose to wear a "label" calling myself a Muslim but does that truly make me a Muslim?

Everybody knows there are all sorts of people in Maldives now -- Christians, atheists, Buddhists, Goths, etc. But nobody is fighting among them. There is peace and harmony. So why does the government or politicians who designed this anti-Islamic and anti-human Constitution want a Muslim label for everyone?

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