Friday, April 23, 2010

Dhiffushi: the next Himendhoo?

A man claiming to have been trained by Taliban militants in Pakistan is recruiting in Dhiffushi, Kaafu Atoll, Maldives Dissent has learnt.

Known as Zubba, and originally from Male, the man, who is in his 30s, recently rented a room on the island and moved in with his wife and two children.

Zubba is said to have befriended a handful of disenfranchised youth, mostly heroin addicts, and has already twice held Friday prayer congregations in his rented accommodation.

When islanders discovered this they called for him to be expelled from the island, Zubba’s supporters have rallied around him in support. Zubba, meanwhile, has threatened serious consequences if the islanders interfered with his activities.

According to an islander, Zubba at present is tailoring leaflets to convert the whole of Dhiffushi. He does not go to work and it is not known from where he gets funds to support his stay on the island.

Although Zubba has been Wahhabi for a long time, he shaved off his beard and turned non-Wahhabi for a short while after the Sultan Park bombing.

Dhiffushi, an impoverished island two hours from Male has a population of just over 700. Many of its inhabitants turned Wahhabi in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami. An islander reported that the boatyard on the island constantly plays Radio Atoll, which spreads misogyny and intolerance in the name of religion, over loudspeakers.

The government’s Islamic ministry, headed by the Adhalath Party, has so far failed to address the growth of extremism in the country. Instead, its heads appear to be using the resources at its disposal to spread its own intolerant misogynistic and anti-democratic propaganda.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Maldives government to host pro-Taliban preacher

The Maldives government is sponsoring an even that will bring public speaker Zakir Naik to preach Islam in the capital Male, and is planning to broadcast it live on TV and radio.

Naik, a medical doctor by profession, hails from Maharashtra, India, and is the founder of the Islamic Research Foundation which owns and broadcasts Peace TV.

Although Naik participates in inter-faith dialogue and peace conferences, he is known for his anti-western rants and has been criticized for spreading hatred and intolerance.

Like members of our own Adhalath Party, which runs the Maldives Islamic ministry, Naik supports the buruga and claims western dresses make women more susceptible to rape. This shifts the blame of violence against against women from the perpetrator to the victim, a view championed by the religious right in the Maldives.

Naik doesn’t consider the Taliban a terrorist organization and denies it suppressed women.

In fact the Taliban made life for women in Afghanistan “hellish” by any measurement: they banned women from going to school, university or other educational institution; deprived them of medical care; whipped, beat and verbally abused women who were not clothed according to Taliban rules; and banned women from sports and, even, laughing aloud.

Some critics claim Naik is funded by the Wahhabi sect, which is also widely believed to be financing the spread of religious fundamentalism in the Maldives, and have called on an inquiry into his finances.

Others have pointed out Naik is not a scholar and, therefore, is issuing Islamic teachings without knowledge or authority.

The government can only hope to strengthen Wahhabi and regressive ideology in the Maldives by bringing Naik here.

Religious ‘scholars’ who subscribe to Wahhabi teachings already have a free reign to spread hatred, intolerance, and misogyny unchallenged in the Maldives.

Last year, Wahhabi scholar Bilal Philips told thousands of Maldivians that it was permissible in Islam to marry off young girls as soon as they experience menarche, even if they are only nine years old.

National broadcasters TVM, which gave free airtime to Bilal Philips’s pro-child abuse and misogynistic speech has, since, sold airtime to Adhalath’s Ilyas Hussein to sexualize women and the Quran, and to ‘Naraka’ Fareed to spread hatred against women.

TVM is yet to provide concerned people with a copy of its broadcast standards or to offer a satisfactory explanation of their role in the spread of misogyny and child-abuse propaganda in the name of Islam.

Zealots have been spreading hatred and intolerance with renewed vigour ever since President Mohamed Nasheed gave the Adhalath Party a ministry.

As blogger naimbe pointed out, the Islamic ministry was this year given a budget of more than 16 million US dollars.

Thats a lot of money to spread and facilitate the spread of regressive ideology.