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.