Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Death threats in the name of Islam

A section of the religious right has singled out a blogger and for three days openly called for his death. A person calling himself Ali Manik published an article on the Maldivan language website www.musaasil.com, accusing blogger Hilath Rasheed of mocking Islam, which prompted several commentators to call for the latter's death. 

Another blog www.kandukoss.blogspot.com earlier published a post with the title "Kill Whosoever Makes Fun of Islam", which also appeared to target Rasheed.

The online assault, launched under the guise of Islam, is a clear attempt to silence debate on religion by resorting to the threat of violence, but there has been no condemnation by the government, even though it tries to promote itself abroad as the providers of a safe haven for dissident writers. The Maldives human rights commission has predictably remained silent, as has the NGO which calls itself the Maldives Journalists Association. 

But one blogger, Simon, called on muraasil.com to remove the hate comments and death threats, and this seems to have had an impact; the offending article and comments have been temporarily removed. 

The incident recalls the 2007 death threats made against Aishath Aniya, the then secretary-general of the MDP, for writing an article against veiling. The government, the police, and the MDP didn't take any action in Aniya's defense back then.

The MDP government needs to send a strong message to religious bullies that death threats and calls to violence will not be tolerated under any circumstances. 

President Nasheed has no business to attempt to woo Aung San Suu Kyi to the Maldives if he is unable to protect homegrown writers from clear incite to violence, hatred, and murder.