Section: Media

Maldives ‘defamation law’ to curtail freedom of expression

sh-censored-human

by Azra Naseem

The ‘People’s’ Majlis is about to kill the people’s right to freedom of expression.

The law was proposed by a PPM MP, Jaufar Dawood. It seems to me he had little say in its drafting – otherwise he wouldn’t have called it the Deformation Bill. It will be supported by all but a couple of PPM MPs, and most who belong to the so-called ruling coalition. Jumhooree Party’s Qasim Ibrahim—the great defender of democracy—fled the country ahead of the vote, no doubt hoping it would save him from the President’s wrath (in the form of attacks on Qasim’s fat wallet) if he votes against the Bill. Opposition MDP has issued a three line red whip to attend and vote against the Bill.

Very few of the MPs who will pass the law have any knowledge of, or the brain power to comprehend, the legal minefield that is the offence of defamation, and the tightrope between the right to freedom of expression and the right to a good name that it requires legislators to walk.

As the ruling party—many leading figures of which are implicated in some of the biggest corruption scandals in the history of the country and/or have benefitted handsomely from the culture of bribery, graft and embezzlement that characterises the current regime—PPM was anxious to push the Bill through the parliament with as little discussion and debate as possible. To ensure this, it closed the door it, in a moment of unintended democracy, opened to public feedback; invited a legally non-existent entity by the name of the Fiqh Academy to advise the parliamentary committee on the Bill; recalled MPs even from religious pilgrimages to come home and vote for it; and shut out all dissenting opinion from every stakeholder other than supporters of the regime who stand to benefit from a total media blackout on their illegal activities.

In the end, after just an hour and 15 minutes of chit-chat among seven PPM MPs who ignored the remaining two opposition members, the Bill was passed with a few small changes—none that were proposed by opposition MPs, or by media organisations.

Dissecting the new law

So what does this new piece of legislation do? And why is there such an outcry against it among journalists and other thinking members of society?

To start with, it is a direct full-frontal assault on the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by Article 27 of the Constitution, and Article 19 of the UDHR and the ICCPR, both of which the Maldives is party to. It does so to such an extent that even holding an opinion—not just expressing one—and ‘seeing things as one wishes to’, are deemed material subject to prosecution and punishment. How a person’s unexpressed opinion can be policed is yet to be known, but I am sure the Attorney General—or whoever the President instructs to draft new regulations—will find ways.

Basically, the law restricts freedom of expression—that is, it criminalises defamation—on four different grounds: (1) protection of religion; (2)  protection of national security; (3) protection of an individual’s right to a good name; and (4) protection of ‘norms’. I will discuss them in the order they appear, as they appear, in this new law.

(1) Protection of religion

Protection of Islam, including speech and action against any tenet of Islam is already protected by the Constitution.

Invited to ‘advice’ the parliamentary committee reviewing the draft Bill, the ‘Fiqh Academy’ equated freedom of expression with anti-Islamic behaviour and called for, in the name of religion, absolute obedience to the leader whatever their crimes. Yesterday, the Islamic Minister said protection of a person’s right to a good name was among the reasons Islam was revealed as a religion. The stand here is clear — only religious authorities allowed to speak on this would be those who favour the Bill, and those who would use religion to help Yameen pass the Bill the way he wants.

It is a good thing my fellow blogger, Hudhuhan’dhu, published her dissenting opinion on this matter last night, with a few hours to spare before the MPs hit the button to say yes to killing freedom of expression.

What does the new legislation do to ‘protect religion’?

It prohibits any speech and opinion that mocks Islam, and that which questions the validity of its origins. These are provisions already covered by the Maldives Constitution; and this is not an argument against the Constitution but a dissection of a Bill that infringes on the rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

What is problematic in this new law here, therefore, is its regulation of speech to protect the ‘religious unity’ of Maldivians. It will be an offence to ‘destroy’ this unity, and express opinions that would ‘create religious thoughts, divisions [and] fitna’.

The said ‘religious unity’ is not defined.

Today’s Maldivian society is not religiously uniform, apart from adherence to Constitutional requirement to be Muslims. An increasing number of Maldivians follow Salafism, some adhere to the Wahhabi variant, others follow different ideological paths of the Salafi spectrum: some are purists, others apolitical or conservative, quietists, quietist-rejectionists, activist-challengers, and of course, Salafi-Jihadists. Many of them are calling each other non-Muslims and fighting amongst themselves. Another large segment of the population are so far out of the Salafi circle.

So what imagined ‘religious unity’ are we talking about here?

More importantly, what form of ‘religious unity’ is the government intending to impose on the population with the use of this law? The legislation will find anyone who attempts to disseminate religious knowledge without the permission of the Islamic Ministry in breach of this law – which of the religious segments will get approval? Whose voices are going to be cut off, who is going to be fined, and who will be thrown into jail? Given the close ties the government has formed with Saudi Arabia, and the ‘religious unity’ agreement signed between the two countries, it is very likely that this new legislation will pave the way for Saudi Arabian religious practices, and only those religious practices, to be allowed in the Maldives.

(2) Protection of national security

This includes opinions that incite acts of terrorism or armed aggression, which is fair enough, if applied fairly.

What is extremely worrying is the prohibition of ‘opinions that damage national security or sovereignty’.

What does such an opinion entail? According to the law, this would be measured by whether or not the opinion expressed is accepted or not as a threat to national security by a sane person.

This is terribly vague.

How sane does the person have to be? Is everybody equally sane, or are there varying degrees of sanity? Does every ‘sane person’ have a uniform agreement on what a national security-threatening opinion looks/sounds like? Does every sane person have the same opinion of what national security is?

Some people (I believe with a certain degree of sanity, at least enough to seem to lead a functional life) believe that talking of the corruption rife among senior figures in government—even with proof—creates disharmony among the public, which leads to public disorder (peaceful protests), which are then seen by this ostensibly sane people as a threat to national security. Or, sane people have also deemed those who supposedly summon Jinnis to locate bombs visible only to the paranoid eye as threats to national security…With a definition as vague as this, even the supernatural may not escape this law. How then can normal democratic rights hope to survive?

(3) Protection of an individual’s right to a good name

This is a basic right, guaranteed by Article 33 of the Constitution.

This new law jumps on top of the Constitutional guarantee and criminalises the publication of a false statement that damages the reputation of another; retains the right for the damaged party to pursue the case in civil court; and clarifies that people are free to publish statements that may damage the reputation of an institution but not those who run it, or work in it.

For example, people may speak of alleged corruption in—say the Sadhagath Foundation run by the First Lady, but cannot state or imply that the corruption has anything to do with the Lady who runs it. What is most worrying, apart from the criminalisation of defamation, is the lack of exemptions and protections provided by this law to those whose profession it is to talk about other people and their activities. These will be addressed later in this analysis.

(4) Protection of norms

This is a funny one, with more holes in it than a piece of Swiss cheese.

First, ‘norms’ are socially constructed, they are constantly transforming with cultural shifts, changing beliefs and other temporal and physical factors. What is normal at this moment in time is not what was normal in the past, and not what will be normal in the future. What is normal also changes from person to person.

According to this law, it is a crime to express opinions that are contrary to how people ‘normally behave’ in society, or opinions that are against how people would normally behave in public places, or against the behavioural norms that people would normally follow, or against how a media with responsibility to serve the public would normally act, or against the codes of conduct that would be publicly followed.

Would. What are these abstract standards that normal people would follow in an imagined normal society? Who are these paragons of normality that are not seen but would uphold these standards if they did exist?

There are some guidelines for keeping on the right side of this imagined community. Don’t: incite damage to person and property; express opinions that incite harm to a person, life, or property; advertise alcohol and drugs; expose any material deemed as ‘secret’ by any regulation; publicise any material that facilitates a negative perception in society of ‘women, people with special needs and children’; express opinions that encourage sexual and obscene activity; and engage in talk, within hearing distance of minors under 18 years of age, that would negatively influence their thinking.

Where would the authorities even begin policing the last two?

Who is not allowed to express opinions that encourage sexual activity? Would it apply to flirting between courting couples who are consenting adults? What is obscene activity? In today’s Maldivian society, even holding hands by unmarried men and women can be considered obscene by some people — would that mean jail time?

And who are these adults not allowed to talk in ways that would negatively influence minors? Would it apply to the parents of these children? Or does it have to be a stranger? What is considered negative influence? Can a discussion about Pokemon Go—deemed by some religious authorities as un-Islamic—lead to punishment under this law? Can talk of the Maldivian Idol? Kim Kardashian? ‘The West’? Mohamed Nasheed? Democracy?

What is defamation?

What this law defines as defamation is: publication of a statement whether spoken written, drawn, illustrated, or gestured that can be depicted, thought of, or inferred as damaging to a person’s reputation in the eyes of a third person or society at large.

Notice there is a very important word missing from this definition: false. In all definitions of defamation I have come across, it is the publication of a false statement that is the key, pre-eminent word. In this piece of legislation, the word is introduced only in the second clause of the Article (11) which defines it. Clause (b) goes on to say that the definition of defamation includes the publication of a false statement that lowers a person’s standing in the eyes of right-thinking members of society, or has a negative impact on the regard right-thinking members of society have for that person, or causes right-thinking people to hate the person, or leads to the person’s ostracisation. Clause (c) clarifies that such statements do not have to be clearly stated – they can also be implied.

This definition is not too different from most definitions of the offence as accepted in many democratic societies. What is missing are the many qualifications that usually come with this definition. One such example is, how will the identity of the implied recipient of the defamatory statement be established? No such provisions are given.

Publication

In most defamation law in democratic societies, a statement is regarded as published if a third person—a person other than that to whom the defamatory statement was addressed—is made aware of the said statement in the various ways specified.

In this law, however, publication is regarded as making such a statement—be it in writing, speech, illustration, picture, or audio—in a way that can be seen, heard, thought of, or inferred by the public. Publication also includes acts and gestures made in public view that can be felt and inferred as defamatory.

This to me suggests this law is not about the protection of an individual’s right to their good name, in which case the making of such a statement to even one other person would be regarded as defamatory. That it has to be made publicly, to the public at large, suggests the purpose of the law is more to restrict organs of public speech—such as the media and other public fora. To protect public figures who the media would talk about.

This becomes more evident in light of Clause (3) of Article 12, which goes on to say: publication also includes online newspapers, blog spots, websites, social media, registered newspapers and magazines, unregistered newspapers and magazines, and broadcasting via radio and television.

If this law was about the protection of an individual’s right to their good name, these specifications would have not been necessary – saying that any third person hearing/seeing a false statement made by an individual against another that damages the reputation of the latter would have been sufficient.

Damages

Those seeking damages in defamation cases, according to this law, have one recourse: the existing law on providing damages in defamation. In the original draft, as proposed by Dawood, the Attorney General was to have been given three months from the ratification of this law to make the necessary amendments to existing laws on damages.

Yesterday, during last minute changes brought by the parliamentary committee, this three month grace period was done away with. As passed by the parliamentary committee, the awarding of new damages will start from the moment the President ratifies this law. Apparently it matters little that no legal mechanisms to do so will exist.

Defences

Here, where the law should perhaps be strongest, is where it is at its weakest. As is found in defamation laws in most democratic countries, there are no absolute privileges—instances where the intentions of the publisher of the alleged defamatory statement is irrelevant and is therefore absolutely exempt from prosecution. What is said in parliament and in courts, for example, often fall into the category of absolute privilege—no matter how malicious the person who made the statement is being, and how untrue the allegation made might be, if they are made during a session, they are exempt. And this applies to the journalists who report these defamatory statements accurately and contemporaneously.

In the law that will be passed by the Majlis today, even these privileges—called ‘official privileges’—are qualified. Statements made in the parliament, Majlis and Cabinet, are protected only if they are made ‘according to the relevant regulations and codes of conduct’. The dangers of having these qualifications in a country such as the Maldives is that Judges, the Majlis Speaker, and the President, can change the accepted rules and codes of conduct st any given moment—right in the middle of an alleged session or even a defamatory statement—making the defendant immediately liable for libel.

Other ‘Official privileges’ include statements made and documents exchanged during an investigation by an official authority; and publications by the Majlis or a court.

Statements made, and material publicised during and for the purposes of education or in the pursuit of knowledge in schools by teachers, educators, experts, technocrats and other such figures—with good intention—is included and protected as freedom of expression.

Accurate coverage of and discussions related to these statements made under ‘official privileges’ can be accepted as a defence against defamation, as are coverage of and discussions related to official publications by a foreign organisation, court, or legislative body.

Exemptions

Interestingly, the new law has a [very short] section titled “Instances that cannot be considered as national security threats”. There is just one: Peaceful activities in support of or against various issues, carried out according to legal standards outlined by this law, while exercising the legal rights accorded to citizens and are conducted within legal boundaries cannot be considered as expressions of opinions that threaten national security.

Did you catch a glimpse of the rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution sandwiched somewhere in there between the many conditions and qualifications?

The second clause in this section deals with defences in expressing opinions that threaten national security: ‘expressing an opinion that calls for protection of a circumstance unrelated to national security’ [I did not make this up - this is a verbatim translation]; and, expressing an opinion that says a government institution must not have the opportunity to keep its operations secret.

Seriously – that is how far freedom of expression stretches—the right to say that an institution must be transparent. Other than that—for example, name the leader of the said institution and say he or she should not be allowed to keep the institution’s operations a secret—expect to be done for breach of national security.

There is similarly another very short section which is titled – Instances that would not be considered defamatory. These are when the statement made or opinion expressed is truth; when the statement made or the opinion expressed is made with due respect, in an official, or intellectual way, or at such a forum; and, when the statement made or the opinion expressed is to carry out an official responsibility or duty and is made with protection of the law.

A last minute addition, made yesterday evening, included a provision that can be seen as a nod to artistic license: a film, drama, song, story or any other production that does not refer to a particular person, based on fictitious events, produced with sufficient notice, will not be regarded as defamatory.

It cannot be argued that the truth is an absolute defence to defamation. But what are the other clauses doing here? Since when did due respect become a term defined in law? And what is ‘an intellectual way’? Will discussions on media by experts be regarded as intellectual, or are experts to confine their discussions to classrooms only? Can journalistic analyses and commentary be regarded as carrying out an official responsibility, or would ‘official’ capacity be defined as only those working for the government, or a body of the State? Why is there such an emphasis on protection of the ‘official’, and not much about the protection of the individual when the law is supposed to protect an individual’s right to their good name? To who should notice be given of someone’s intention to write a song? A book? And what is ‘sufficient notice’?

Responsibilities of the Media

That there is an entire section detailing the responsibilities of the media is telling.

Also tellingly, it starts with an Article titled, ‘Determining Punishments for the Media’:

If a media that commits any of the ‘crimes outlined in this law’ is a registered media organisation, it should be notified and the following actions must be taken when a complaint is lodged against the said organisation at the state institution responsible for the oversight of that organisation, or if the institution decides to investigate the media under its own initiative:

The organisation must be warned, and the warning made public; and the organisation must be instructed to withdraw the document, news, report, video, or a video/audio broadcast, or to release a statement to that effect or to apologise.

A repeat offender will be suspended or their programme schedule will be interrupted for a certain period. In addition to the said actions, the state institution must also fine the media organisation which publishes a defamatory statement between MVR50,000 and MVR 2 million. The accused media organisation is allowed to exercise its right to appeal – but only once the fine has been paid.

Very generously, the law says that if [in the very unlikely event, of course, given the judiciary] the appeal hearing finds in favour of the media organisation, the institution must refund the imposed fine.

One of the highlights of this clause dealing with the fine is that these fines go not to the individual concerned but to the state institution with oversight of the offending media organisation.

So much for a defamation bill that protects an individual’s constitutional right to a good name. In this case, why is the individual not being given the damages? Whose right exactly is being violated here? Or more importantly, whose right are the makers of this law expecting to be ‘violated’ by this law?

What happens when the media organisation cannot fork out the millions it must pay the state for damaging the reputation of an individual? Must that person be linked to the State?

The state oversight body must report the organisation to the police, an investigation must be conducted, and the police must send the case to the Prosecutor General. If the media organisation fails to pay the fine imposed within the time period decided on by the court, the court must jail the reporter who authored the statement for between three and six months.

The section also has a specific clause dealing with statements made at ‘meetings, forums and podiums’. It is described as a defence of reporting such statements, but is in fact an obstruction of it.

It starts by saying that balanced reporting, without distorting the meaning of, statements made at podiums, forums and meetings, having secured a response from the person the report is about, is a defence in defamation.

It goes further, saying: ‘not being able to contact the said person and therefore being unable to get a response from them cannot be considered a part of this defence’.

That the law makes it a point to say that reports of what is said on podiums and other such fora must be brought ‘without distorting the meaning of’ reveals just how much this law is intended to specifically protect one person: President Yameen.

The man has a habit of lashing out at the public when he addresses them from such venues—palpitating at podiums, if you like. Very often these tirades involve him putting his foot in his mouth. It then takes two Spokespersons—the Dhivehi term for this being rather aptly— Tharujamaanu, or Interpreter—to explain to the public (one to the Dhivehi speaking citizens, and the other to the English speaking international community) what the President really meant to say. This new law will force the media to wait until the two spokesmen untangle what the President actually said from what he intended to say. Or face a hefty fine, or jail.

The clause which requires, under all circumstances, that reporters wait for a response from the person about whom a report is being made is totally unfeasible in the modern media environment of rapidly revolving news cycles, and social media. A common tactic of politicians is to avoid phone calls for explanations—so, if the media cannot get hold of a politician who is deliberately hiding from them, the story must go unreported for days, even months? What about the activists on Twitter and Facebook? Must they wait for the spokespersons to provide the real meaning of something before they comment on what was said at the podium? Or spend six months in jail for 140 characters which quoted the President, or some ‘Honourable Member’ wrong? Or pay out MVR 150,000 for saying it was the President’s left foot rather than his right foot that was jammed into his mouth last time he lashed out?

Whistleblowing

Reporting, or expressing an opinion to reveal a crime being committed in an institution; an act being carried out or had been carried out that endangers the health or life of a person; to reveal an act committed by an institution that endangers the environment; and to reveal hidden illegal activities are not considered as defamatory.

Small mercies.

Wonder what the young Bank of Maldives employee, Gasim Abdul Kareem, who languished in jail for six months for revealing the massive MMPRC corruption, would make of it?

Power of Investigation and Punishment for Offenders

If a statement is made that causes damage to someone’s reputation by an individual who is not part of a registered media organisation, or if someone believes that the said statement has damaged his or her reputation, the plaintiff can report the matter directly to the police. And the police must investigate and send a file to the Prosecutor General for prosecution.

The new changes brought last minute by the parliamentary committee in charge of reviewing the law also added the incredible clause that if a defamatory statement is included in the broadcasting of a live event, the person on the receiving end of the said statement has the right to request the media organisation in question to stop the broadcast. If an individual makes such a complaint to a media organisation, it must immediately stop the live broadcast. If not, the organisation will be punished according to the stipulations of the new law. All broadcasting content produced in the Maldives, and abroad, must conform to the regulations, or face prosecution and punishment. Refusal to name journalistic sources is also to be a criminal offence, in direct violation of the Constitution.

In terms of punishment, if a person is found to have expressed an opinion that violates a basic tenet of Islam, the person will be punished under the relevant provisions of the Penal Code; if found in breach of religious preaching or education regulations as outlined in this law, they will be punished under the Religious Unity Law (6/94).

Individuals, who do not belong to a media organisation found guilty of the crime of defamation will be fined between MVR 25,000 and 2 million for defamatory statements and opinions that violate national security. A late change was also made yesterday evening which said that in imposing a fine for expressing opinions that violate the norm, the said individual’s standing in society, and the media by which the said opinion was expressed, must be taken into consideration.

Apart from the crime of breaching norms, for which media organisations must be fined between MVR50,000 and 1 million, all other offences will set them back by between MVR50,000 and 2 million. Individual journalists will be fined between MVR50 and 150,000. Unpaid fines for individuals will mean jail, and appeals will not be allowed until fines are paid in full. For media organisations, says the latest changes made yesterday evening, it would mean suspension or revoking of their licenses.

The lawmakers touted ‘other European countries which has criminal defamation laws’ as a justification for rejecting international criticism of these draconian new restriction on Maldivian freedom of expression. It is true, several states criminalise defamation. And, they too, face criticism from international organisations fighting for the right to freedom of expression everywhere. The difference is, the defamation laws in these countries also come with many protections of free speech: privileges that are absolute and qualified; recognition of honestly held opinions, not just stark divisions between true/false opinions; exemptions for journalistic, artistic, and other creative fields; protections for satire, and literature; opportunities to make amends; defences of fair publication; instances where ‘public interest’ is seen as outweighing an individual’s right to a good name; statements made without malice; allowances made for good faith; innocent publications; varying degrees of remedies, and damages to be paid out. This law contains no such nuances, no room for manoeuvre – only innocents and criminals. Reporters and the reported on, respectively, that is. Black/white, good/bad. That’s it.

People’s rights buried by people’s representatives

The above is a not so brief discussion of what is contained in the new law about to be passed by a majority of the people’s representatives in Majlis, who sit there in the air-conditioned chambers, paid in excess of MVR80,000 a month by the people to advocate for and protect their rights.

The law rolls back freedoms that Article 27 of our Constitution guarantees us. And, it is doing so in violation of Article 16 of the Constitution which says the rights guaranteed by the Constitution can only be limited by a law ‘enacted by the People’s Majlis in a manner that is not contrary to this Constitution’, and that any law enacted by the Majlis ‘can limit the rights and freedoms to any extent only if demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.’

The Maldives is no longer a free and democratic society. It does not have an independent judiciary, nor an independent Majlis. Laws that curtail constitutional freedoms cannot be justifiably made in such an environment, by a Majlis that is corrupt, that pays no heed to the people and their representatives in opposition, and remains above all checks and balances required by a democratic society.

What some people call journalism

by Azra Naseem

The illegitimate judiciary of the Maldives has condemned a 22-year-old man, Hussein Humam, to death. If carried out, the final ruling by the Supreme Court will bring to an end Maldives’ moratorium on death penalty which has been in place for over half a century.

The Maldives is in a deep political crisis. The democratic system of governance adopted in 2008 and the separation of powers that this necessitated and entailed are gone; eroded by the authoritarian reversal of the last three years. There has never been as much need for democracy’s fourth estate as there is today.

Sadly, journalism in the Maldives, too, is in turmoil and under attack. While some brave journalists are fighting to uphold the principles of their profession and perform their crucial role as public watchdogs, the government is trying hard to revoke the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression. Added to blatant and covert such attempts by the government are the problems of partisan media ownership, self-censorship among journalists and, saddest of all, so-called journalists who throw ethics to the wind or put them up for sale at the slightest temptation.

The following is an English translation of an article published by Mundoo Adam HaleemEditior in Chief of Avas, an online newspaper with a substantial readership. Haleem describes himself as an “iconic award- winning journalist” and uses Sartre to put himself up on a pedestal [see his Twitter cover photo at top]. Yet, what he writes is totally bereft of facts, journalistic integrity, and respect for the good-names or lives of others.

Translating this was not the most pleasant of tasks, but I felt it is necessary for people–not just Dhivehi speakers–to know the shocking levels parts of the Maldives’ Fourth Estate often sink to in its role as a poodle to the executive. I also felt that foreign parties named in this article should be aware of the very serious accusations being levelled against them. 

The role of ‘journalists’ like Haleem, and the establishments that prop such people up, was crucial in bringing to an end the Maldives’ democratic transition. It is playing an equally crucial role in strengthening the current government’s authoritarianism.


The secret of that murder: the wheel of accusations!

  • Biggest accusation against MDP
  • India’s RAW and GMR involved
  • Joshua Project implicated

When the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence handed down to Hussein Humam, the killer of Dr Afrasheem Ali, former Police Commissioer Abdulla Riyaz said: “The trial has ended, the time has come to reveal information about the case.”

Afrasheem was killed between on the night of 1 October 2012 between 11:30 and 1:00 a.m. after he entered his home in H. Funvilu. Afrasheem was the strongest intellectual mind Maldives has seen in recent history. The investigation that began, and is still continuing, to find the secret of that murder is the widest investigation in the Maldives, with the largest number of participants. That included even America’s FBI. While the investigation has found Afrasheem’s killer, the Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence imposed on him, and signs are emerging that the Maldives will end its half a century long moratorium on the death penalty, all types of allegations have mounted around the murder of Afrasheem. Or have been deliberately mounted. So, as Riyaz said, it is now time to chat about this. Shall we turn the wheel of accusations around the secret of that murder?

Islamisation of Knowledge

The moderate Islamic policy of Afrasheem was based on the concept ‘Islamisation of Knowledge’. This is a concept that proves the religion of Islam is alive, and which enlivens Islam with thinking and logic. This concept is causing Islam to spread wider every day in countries of the Western world. Scholars who follow this concept are among Islamic scholars most hated by Christians. While there are major religious scholars in the world who follow this school of thought, some such scholars have been killed in very shocking and cruel ways. Afrasheem is a link in this chain. One of the leading figures of this Manhaj Farooq[1] was murdered in broad daylight in his own home with shots to the chest [errors as in original].

Christian missionaries were behind the murders of most scholars. They murder such scholars and blame it on others. By providing different narratives. The narrative of the murder of Afrasheem is being written like this in the book of Maldivian history. Killing all Islamisation of Knowledge scholars until none are left is being carried out by Christian missionaries under a very big plan. Reason being that the Manhaj is causing Islam to spread and grow bigger in the world.

A baseless accusation

Former Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz was a leader of the Afrasheem case investigation. Abdulla Riyaz’s statement that he will ‘reveal important truths about Afrasheem’s murder when the time comes’, the way he said it and his tone, as well as the political camp Riyaz was in at the time provided the opportunity for those who flip accusations about Afrasheem’s murder like a roshi to take them in the direction of President Yameen.

What does he say now? Now he says ‘The investigation has no evidence to indicate President Abdulla Yameen’s involvement” in the killing of Afrasheem.

According to Riyaz, when he left the Police, the investigation was looking at parties suspected of financing the contract killing. Therefore, this puts an end to the steering of Riyaz’s remarks towards Yameen.

The next opportunity to free people who were first accused of the murder, to create new accusations, and then to steer those accusations towards President Yameen arose when former Home Minister Umar Naseer spoke at the PPM’s first presidential primaries connecting President Yameen and Afrasheem’s murder, and when what he said was ‘misquoted’ in the media.

When you look at the reality, Umar didn’t say Yameen is involved in the murder of Afrasheem. But what he said was very much turned in the media.

President Yameen and Umar were rivals in the most competitive presidential primary held in the Maldives to date. Pointing out each other’s deficiencies and shortcomings is done in presidential primary debates. That is the scene we see in America. In the last primary there were very few debates in which Donald Trump did not shout filth at rival candidates. Also made many baseless accusations of crime.

This is done in primaries to show ‘cross examination’ to the public. Saying that someone implicated in the killing of Afrasheem was in the offices of PPM and that person entered the PPM offices when President Yameen was there is something the other candidate can say to demonstrate a shortcoming of President Yameen. That is not necessarily saying President Yameen was involved in the murder.

President Yameen’s side could have spoken of seeing a child molester in Umar’s wing of the PPM offices, waiting to meet Umar. In the 2008 election campaign President Maumoon launched a similar attack against President Mohamed Nasheed at the last minute. Later he said it was a last minute political attack.

In truth, Yameen did not meet with the said person. Umar Naseer has previously confirmed this twice. But that person did enter the PPM offices. The person entering the office cannot be reason to imply involvement in Afrasheem’s murder.

When the connections between the people next arrested in the case and the leaders of MDP are ‘love’, but they do not become connections to the murder of Afrasheem, where is the evidence to connect Yameen to the killing when something Umar Naseer said as a verbal attack in a primary is misled in the media? [incoherence in original]

A police person (name protected) involved in the investigation said no findings to date establishes any links between President Yameen and the murder of Afrasheem. According to the person, no evidence was found at any stage of the investigation that can link to Yameen.

‘There is nothing [Commissioner] Riyaz can say later and after, and nor can [Commissioner] Hussein Waheed or FBI say. The reason is that the motive for this killing was travelling in a direction and stopped at a particular stage. At none of those directions was President Yameen. No related links. We know where the murder was headed, that was the direction it was travelling but we have to stop short because there is no evidence’, intelligence officer said. ‘There is no evidence President Yameen was involved in this maadaa. Nor is there any reason for him to be involved in it. If someone is killed, there has to be a motive. No way has been created that can pin the motive on Yameen.”

There are accusations that connect President Yameen and gangs. And, when Umar’s political attack was twisted it provided the opportunity for murder accusations to be taken in the direction of Yameen. There is another reason. When Yameen went to open a futsal pitch after he was elected as president Azlif and Sato were there. Azlif Rauf was coach of the team Adeeb played in. In his speech there that day president mentioned a word against dismantling huts belonging to gangs.

As it happened, the case against Sato concluded with his release due to lack of evidence, came after Yameen was elected as President. Then PG Muhuthaz did not appeal the case. In this politically divided Maldives all these things became mixed together and political opposition has used the opportunity against President Yameen. The real accusation has been put aside and gaze focused on Yameen.

Is Yameen the Mens Rea of the murder?

Two very basic conditions have to be met in the investigation of a murder case. Both are based on the necessity for a motive for any killing. And on finding out this motive.

In the investigation of Afrasheem’s murder the first thing to do is to build ‘Actus Reus’, that is, the establishment of the act and the person who carried out the act. Second is to identify the mens rea in this case. This is finding out what was going through the mind, what the intention was, when the act was committed. Or, finding out the ‘motive’, as everyone knows. If someone is killed, there is a motivation. So the first thing an investigation team does when a case comes is to establish actus reus and mens rea. These are the two fundamentals of an investigation. It is along these two branches that the investigation will take shape.

Shall we have a look at the case of Afrasheem’s murder? The actus reus here can be seen. The person’s actions in Afrasheem’s murder was established from the start. Because Hussein Humam killed Afrasheem by hitting him with his machete. Next we have to see what Huma’s interest was in carrying out this act?

Humam is a young man who commits different crimes at different times. Afrasheem is too high profile a person to be counted in the same class as Humam. Seen this way, there is no reason for Humam to have a motive to kill Afrasheem. But he can be the actus reus who carried out the act. That condition is met because he has a record of crimes and a record of using knives to attack people.

Next is to find out a motive, or who is behind. As it is now said, second person and first person. This where some people, especially political rivals, start to steer the motive for this major killing in the direction of President Yameen.

What is President Yameen’s motive to make a contract with the killer of Afrasheem? This has to be established. — ‘Beyond reasonable doubt’, or even a minor link has to be seen against President Yameen.

One of the reasons why Yameen would not have a motive is that Afrasheem and Yameen were in the same political camp even though they had different political aspirations. Second thing is, Afrasheem’s religious philosophy of ‘Islamisation of Knowledge’ was not something President Yameen objects to.

Next is an allegation that President Maumoon had decided to award the 2013 PPM presidential ticket to Afrasheem while Yameen had already announced he would get the ticket and compete in the election. It is an allegation that Afrasheem was getting ready to compete in the presidential election for PPM. Who knew of this? There is no evidence.

“Afrasheem has never tried to compete in the presidential race. Nor had he expressed any interest. He had given no signal or said anything that can be interpreted as such. President Maumoon hadn’t worked for any such thing. Therefore, there is truth in this story,” said a political source still very close to both President Maumoon and President Yameen.

According to the source, before the creation of PPM, Afrasheem was the person that Umar’s Zed Faction, which had Yameen’s backing, tried hardest to promote as Deputy Leader during the DRP Congress. But after taking this proposal this way that way and both ways he said three days later “Let me stay as myself”.

Meaning is, Afrasheem never polished his shoes to join the presidential race. And there’s no political reason for Yameen to have a motive for Afrasheem’s killing. There was no rivalry. In contrast, it is known that Yameen tried to push Afrasheem forward.

“It was I who asked Afrasheem to join the Deputy Leader race. From our side. Even though he was far away, Yameen was with us. The other side was Thasmeen’s side. Ali Waheed was on that side. That test is also done. This shows Afrasheem never had such an interest”, said the source who was also part of the former DRP leadership. “Addionally, Afrasheem was very close to Yameen. That’s why Yameen even looked at pushing him forward politically. The rumour that Afrasheem was going to compete politically is all made up. And, if Maumoon had wanted such a thing, the political moves he would have made would have been revealed even then, and even later.”

A source who was in Yameen’s cabinet said even if looked at along political lines, there is no room to see a motive of Yameen, or his ‘mens rea’ in the killing of Afrasheem. The accusations are being steered in the direction of Yameen by MDP.

“No one in the investigation team and the FBI can say to any extent that they established a link to allow even thinking about Yameen. This is also clear, isn’t it, from what Riyaz said after the Supreme Court decision on Humam.”

Why Yameen?

In reality, most people taken into custody in accusations of this murder ends up in MDP. Ja, who gave money to Azleef who gave money to Humam and Sato have connections with Ja, and the girl who threw her phone into the sea between Male’ and Hulhumale’, are people seen as prominent activists representing MDP. The person who is said to have said will give four million is also an MDP activist.

Therefore, even from the beginning the journey of Afrasheem’s murder travelled in the direction of MDP. If the mens rea of this journey travels towards any political party it is towards MDP.

With Afrasheem’s murder, MDP activists worked hardest to portray it as an assault on Afrasheem carried out by religious extremists. To support this Tweets were sent out noting the absence of some figures from Afrasheem’s funeral. The attempts to pin the blame on some religious camps only came to a halt when the police declared it was a political thing with no religious connection whatsoever.

The biggest accusation behind Afrasheem’s murder is against MDP or a hard element emerging from within MDP. From the very beginning they have worked to avoid this and bring in another target in between. In these circumstances, what Umar said, what ex-Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel said as Home Minister of President Waheed and the rumours about connections between President Yameen and gangs and what Riyaz said, were opportunities for MDP and those who oppose Yameen. Twisting of these rumours was what ‘killed’ President Yameen.

Jameel told a big lie!

Should look at what Jameel said too. He said he knows the names of people behind Afrasheem’s murder. “Everyone will be stunned if I reveal those names.”

This is a very big thing the head of police, Home Minister said, about a very big murder case. When Jameel said this he had not reached the stage where he would get to be President Yameen’s running mate. Therefore, those who were looking to deflect accusations against them once again saw this as Jameel too accusing Yameen. And the previous remarks made by Umar that were misled and what Jameel said, they grew finer and again towards Yameen.

But the information that Jameel has is the same information that Commissioners of Police had and members of the investigation team have. It is also the same information that Yameen’s rival, now resigned stay-at-home Umar has. He will have nothing more.

After this Jameel went to Un’goofaaru. He was invited to Afrasheem’s house by his family. Afrasheem’s family asked him, “Tell us a bit more clearly what you said”. Since then Jameel became Yameen’s running mate and also Vice President. Nobody has said as much in praise of Yameen as Jameel. But, since he never openly retracted what he said before, it remains. Even today, MDP keeps selling this story.

Actus Reus and Humam’s confession

Humam admitted that Sato was one of the people who stabbed Afrasheem. According to him, he and Sato entered the house to kill Afrasheem. Sato was the one who first stabbed Afrasheem in the chest. Humam hit him with a machete after that. The court did not accept this confession of Humam. However, Humam has confessed in court and to individual magistrates. According to him, his task for the night was to separate Afrasheem’s head from his body. But, it couldn’t be done because it was to be done on the stairs and even time was being ‘slayed’. Before that Azleef was to give money to him and other participants.

According to Humam’s confession, to carry out the murder, the two of them had assigned a minor to keep watch. Police found the minor from information Humam had given. The child, used as a witness and still under protection, shared everything he knows.

When he killed Afrasheem, Humam was wearing short cut-off trousers. When he attacked with the machete, blood sprayed on his legs. There was blood on other parts of his body. But before he was arrested he took off the trousers, washed it, and changed into a pair of jeans. But the police have not recovered the machete or the cut-off jeans.

Police arrested Humam that night, and when they conducted tests on the inside of the jeans he was wearing at the time, they found traces of blood. DNA from the blood matches Afrasheem’s DNA. Humam is linked to the ‘scene of crime’ from this and from the child witness’s testimony.—Trace blood is sufficient to complete a DNA match. Blood itself is not essential. And this amount is enough to establish and prove actus reus against Humam.

There can be a lesser charge against Sato, even if he was freed on technical grounds

Sato was freed because sufficient evidence ‘beyon reasonable doubt” [sic] to establish actus reus could not be found. Only things against him are the words of the minor and him saying, “Will get rid of the lhai after getting him inside the house”, which was overheard by someone on the other end of a phone on the day of Afrasheem’s murder.

The police have a recording of this audio. Afrasheem was killed that night. But that is not sufficient to prove a murder against someone. If a lesser charge had been lodged, accomplice to murder could have been proved. Therefore, in this case, Sato comes under ‘technical ground’. There is no more room to speak about him in this connection.

Where does the real accusation go?

So where does the mens rea of Afrasheem’s murder go? Turn this wheel and you can walk along the line of accusation. When Afrasheem was killed the MDP government had fallen and even the foreign states that support the party were in chaos.

During this dissatisfaction MDP was creating various things to destroy stability of the Maldives. And it was a time when MDP, especially President Mohamed Nasheed who resigned from government, were really making efforts to show the outside world that religious extremism was a major issue in the Maldives. Therefore, the biggest accusation goes towards MDP. And, government had fallen at a time when Afrasheem was obstructing efforts to make room in the Majlis committee for issues that President Nasheed and Joshua Project had agreed to include in the Penal Code. It was also a time when MDP was fuming about Afrasheem’s response to what Navi Pillay, brought over here by the party, had said.

But the furthest police in this case can travel along the yellow line is up to Ja, son in law of Reeko Moosa Manik. They can go no further. Confessions and other findings link Ja as the person who pays Azlif Rauf. Humam and the rest were paid by Azlif. Moreover, Azlif and Ja did not admit in the investigations.

If MDP is to be accused, who would be giving this contract to Ja? This question has to be asked because Ja and Azlif do not have a ‘mens rea’ in killing Afrasheem. Even though we cannot get to that point, if we look at the wheel of where we can get, it is all MDP that is seen within.

“All links of accusation point to MDP. If that’s the case, to increase chaos based on what was happening at the time or to sell the line of religious extremism to outsiders, based on one of these two things, a political soft target was identified and eliminated, I think. But this is also a feeling because we cannot go any further than Ja”, a source involved in the investigation said.

Is Member Nazim involved?

Member Ahmed Nazim is a smart political strategist. An IT engineer. Large number of accusations against him. Even now accused of having fled to the UK.

To remove suspicion from MDP the case was first steered towards Nazim. In this regard, rumours were spread that Afrasheem’s wife had married Nazim. Audio recordings were made to this effect. As a result, to this day, people who believe this outnumber people who do not. Talk was also spread that it was the wife, in collusion with Nazim, who killed Afrasheem. This spin, or these turns, came from within MDP, representatives of the party, and from the side which came to legally defend Humam. In reality, investigation does not show any involvement of Nazim. And none of the links made to Afrasheem’s wife are real.

Is Adeeb involved in this? He planned to kill Imran!

Former Vice President was even in his most youthful days a gang star [sic]. His mentality is a criminal mentality. He ran massage parlours. Even before he plotted a knife attack to get to a position in the business people’s association he ran many gang activities.

When you think about Adeeb in connection with the murder things are not so clear. But when you look at Adeeb’s past and mentality and things that have happened and been exposed recently this is not an easy name to put aside from your mind when establishing a mens rea in a case such as this.

The reason why this kind of thinking has to be held on to is because as part of Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik’s government Adeeb planned a lot of plans on President Waheed’s behalf to temper a lot of activities MDP was running at the time. At the time Adeeb’s thinking was that President Waheed would ‘wriggle ahead’ in the presidential elections, and Adeeb would move ahead with him. To tame MDP, it was planned to kill Imran Abdulla. At the time Imran was organising large gatherings openly to object to GMR. What Adeeb wanted was to kill Imran and point the finger at MDP and GMR. If you think about this, the murder of Afrasheem can also be steered towards Adeeb. If an investigation is to be reopened this kind of thinking has to remain.

It has been confirmed to Avas that police have complete evidence that Adeeb planned to kill Imran. Adeeb was trying to destroy this record when he became a minister and then Vice in this government. The intelligence leader who prepared the profile was even sacked in relation to this.

Adeeb had planned to have Imran killed on the street. The reason why it did not happen as planned was because American secret police found out and shared this information with Imran. Imran is at home. It’s prudent to ask him. Therefore, Adeeb’s name can also be included in the Wheel of Accusation relating to Afraseem’s murder.

Humam and Adeeb met

Reliable sources have confirmed to Avas that Adeeb took Humam out of jail and met him in a resort. In Conrad Hilton or Sheraton. Why should Adeeb meet? Why else would he meet other than to divert?

Could have tried to steer towards Yameen or towards MDP. But one thing is certain. When Humam said in court that “Yameen and Adeeb would know about this”, it was the hearing held a week after Adeeb met with Humam. There are ways to verify this. Perhaps Adeeb did this according to his long time plan to defame Yameen and muddy his good name.

Joshua Project / Hardingham / MD

Special friend of MDP and Nasheed, a chief priest in an English church, David Hardingham, had ordered Nasheed government to pay attention to Afrasheem. And, with him as a lead, Afrasheem’s speeches were being listened to and analysed, and orders were being given on what to do. All necessary arrangements for this were being made for him by the Joashua Project connected to the big organisation in charge of building churches in the world. Hardingham is among the people who had previously in 1990 also tried to launch the Joshua Project in the Maldives and wipe Islam from the country. He had ordered that Afrasheem be ‘tamed’.

GMR and India’s RAW

Must not end without taking the thinking in this case outside of Maldives. The first time Mohamed Nasheed Tweeted in relation to Afrasheem’s murder he said “Those who killed Afrasheem are abroad”. Therefore, Nasheed would have Tweeted such a Tweet at such a time because there was some truth to it. Therefore the outside world must always be kept in mind in this. Avas findings into this shows that India’s Research And Analysis Wing (RAW) can be blamed in this matter.

With the GMR issue and the fall of President Nasheed’s government, India started a major operation in the Maldives. In relation to the GMR issue and the major political change in the Maldives, India was playing an influential role to portray instability within the Maldives. GMR was facilitating the finance for such a role. Therefore we must think about RAW and GMR. But we cannot go any further than indications.

Anyway, when I arrange things within this wheel, the first to appear is MDP. Next is also MDP. Joshua Project is connected to MDP too. As are RAW and GMR.

There is a person in MDP with the instinct killer [sic]. In various directions connected to MDP are people who should have reason to be Afrasheem’s ‘mens rea’ [sic].

Someone who has studied in the area of Criminal Investigation and someone who used to work in Intelligence said MDP’s hard elements possess the mentality to kill a person and turn it into a political card. But the wheel stops before going any further than Ja.

A family member was taken to jail and Humam gave information as desired by MDP

There is no doubt that Humam is Afrasheem’s killer. But Humam’s ‘mens rea’ cannot be established.

There is no reason to accuse President Yameen in this matter. In contrast, there are many evident reasons to connect to MDP. What is not there is evidence.

Even if we see it as Adeeb his meeting with Humam he was behind, a member of Afrasheem’s family was taken to jail to meet Humam with the funding of someone powerful in MDP (name hidden for protection) where Humam was made to talk the way MDP wanted him to talk and made the family ‘boil’ [incoherence author’s own]. This includes what he said in connection with Yameen.

“A meeting was made to happen, with that meeting the family was pulled into it. That was bound to happen. When so many factors are gathered at the same place that could happen to the family or some members of the family, could it not?” someone who really knows about the case said. And someone else who is close to Afrasheem also said it. That person said Afrasheem’s brother Abdul Nasir returned home from jail very angry with this government and Yameen.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ismail_al-Faruqi

 


The original article in Dhivehi, published on 27 June 2016 is here.

Does this government support Maldivian Jihadists in Syria?

Azra Naseem

In the last week two Maldivians died in the Syrian conflict. About twenty more are fighting in the war. The news was brought to local papers by a group calling itself Bilad Al Sham Media, which insists furiously that it is run by a group of Maldivians based ‘in Syria, not in the Maldives’. Bilad Al Sham refers to what is known as Greater Syria, currently the main attraction for the world’s Jihadis who are lured to the conflict by what many believe is a divine promise that jihad there ‘will set the stage for the emergence of the true Islamic state’.

According to the Lebanon-based newspaper Al-Akhbar, the various nationalities currently fighting in Syria—Lebanese, Jordanians, Iraqis, Palestinians, Kuwaitis, Tunisians, Libyans, Saudis, Yemenis, Afghans and Pakistanis—are divided among many factions and schools of thought. Three among them espouse the most hardline takfiri ideology: al-Qaeda’s Abdullah Azzam Brigades, the Doura Fighting Group, and the Jabhat al-Nusra li-Bilad al-Sham. The Bilad Al Sham Media group, which appears to have been set up for the purpose of publicising the activities of Maldivian ‘Jihadis’, has confirmed that the Maldivians are with Jabhat al-Nusra, the deadliest of the three.

Al-Nusra first announced its existence in January 2012, pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2013 and in April 2014, started its own weapons factory. To remove any doubt about Maldivian fighters being affiliated with Jbhat Al-Nusra, Bilad Al Sham Media posted an Al-Nusra issued identity card which it says belonged to the second Maldivian who died in the conflict. Affiliation with Al-Nusra is a matter of great pride for them.

Bilad Al Sham Media has a strong online presence—it has a Facebook page, a Twitter handle, a YouTube channel, and a blog. The group is making full use of all the platforms to bring detailed news of their activities in Syria to the Maldivian public. According to its Facebook page discussions with followers, the decision to go public was not made lightly. It was aware that being out in the open could mean that future Jihadists would find it more difficult to leave the country and join others in Syria as authorities crack-down on them. But, in the end, it decided that the gains of going public—calling others to ‘Jihad’ and attracting them to their cause—far out-weighed the potential harm.

Bilad Al Sham Media appears to have been spot on in its calculations: they have got a far bigger response from their followers and wanna-be Jihadis than from the government. Whereas the glorification of their ‘martyrdom’ has increased with the publicity, the government response has been virtually non-existent. Maldivian Jihadists, it appears, have nothing to fear from this government. In fact, the government appears to be tacitly condoning the whole enterprise if not actively encouraging it.

Bilad Al Sham Media warned the police not to investigate them, and instructed the Islamic Ministry to stay out of it.

The Islamic Ministry is following the instructions to a tee. Minister Sheikh Shaheem Ali Saeed responded to news of the Maldivian suicide bomber by saying that while he personally disapproved of Maldivians fighting in wars abroad, the Islamic Ministry itself had nothing to say on the matter.

President Yameen, meanwhile, has come out with a statement that makes suicide bombing in Syria sound similar to a minor transgression such as throwing some rubbish on the streets of Singapore where there are strict regulations against such behaviour.

Yameen said that the government had always urged Maldivians to maintain discipline abroad, adding that the responsibility for any crime wilfully committed by an individual must be borne by the individual himself.

Bilad Al Sham Media has made it clear that Maldivians in Syria are well trained fighters killing in the name of God; not ‘a family of Maldivians’ who, while travelling abroad, have somehow found themselves in a bit of a kerfuffle in Syria, as Yameen appears to suggest. Rest of the president’s utterances on the subject, offering financial assistance to the fighters if they have found themselves stuck in Syria, smacks of someone who is totally ignorant of the phenomenon of violent radicalisation or is having a private laugh about it.

Does the government’s astonishingly blasé attitude to one of the most pressing security concerns in the world today stem from ignorance, or is it calculated? Is the government deliberately turning a blind eye to the radicalistion—both violent and non-violent—of Maldivians? Does it consider the ‘Jihadists’ to be engaged in a Holy War to protect Islam? Its actions, or lack of them, since the news broke certainly suggests this to be the case.

Most people were still reeling from the shocking news of the Maldivians killing and being killed in Syria when the national Martyr’s Day rolled around on Friday, 30 May. Death of the second Maldivian had been announced only three days before. Bilad Al Sham Media was busy putting out statements promoting their deaths as martyrdom, a Jihad for Islam, when Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon addressed the nation on the occasion of Martyr’s Day. Shockingly, in all the talk of martyrdom, she had nothing to say about the Maldivians dying in Syria. Still conspicuously not remarking on the Syrian ‘Jihadis’, she defined martyrdom as ‘loss of one’s life from an attack by the enemy in a Jihadi war being fought for religion and for the country’s freedom’. She later said, ‘if we were to lose our lives during a sincere effort to protect our country’s sovereignty, that death will without a doubt be martyrdom.’ There was no such clarification of whether or not the government considers those killing themselves and others in Syria fits into her definition of martyrs for religion.

Other government officials were even more vague. Here is, for example, Vice President Mohamed Jameel Ahmed’s Tweet to mark the occasion:

Which martyrs is he speaking of? The Maldivians ones of days long gone who died fighting for the country’s freedom, or the self-proclaimed Jihadis killing and being killed in Syria?  

Never the sort to waste an occasion for nationalistic rhetoric, on Saturday evening the government held an official ceremony to mark Martyr’s Day. As Chief Guest, Home Minister Umar Naseer added to the ambiguity. He focused on the changed nature of modern warfare, saying that days of fighting with swords and guns are long gone. Today’s war, he said, is ideological; what is under attack are ‘how people think of their countries, and their religion.’ There was no mention of whether or not he, or the government, considers Maldivian ‘Jihadis’ fighting in the Syrian war as soldiers in that ideological war.

Added to this recurring ambiguity is total inaction. Although it is the Maldives Police Service (MPS) which has a dedicated counter-terrorism department, recent media reports have quoted the police as saying Maldives National Defence Force is responsible. In this case, however, the buck seems to have been passed to MPS. Bilad Al Sham Media, which has warned the police that probing into their activities is anti-Islamic, is right not to be too concerned. The MPS was unable to identify Justice Abdulla Hameed from the leaked sex videos despite his identity being obvious to the naked eye. And, it was only in last October that the MPS Counter-terrorism chief flew to London with a ballot box for the presidential election and disappeared only to be found when he posted pictures of himself at an Arsenal football match.  

In addition to the cluelessness, it is not just Bilad Al Sham Media that is warning police that investigating their ‘Jihad’ is anti-Islamic. 

Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 7.46.53 PMThey were recently told the same thing by hardline Salafi preacher Sheikh Adam Shameem Ibrahim (of Andalus fame) selected by the government to address the police on the occasion of Martyr’s Day. What he had to say to the police is not the least bit surprising. He recast national heroes of history in today’s Islamist terms— ‘Mujahedin who had martyred for Islam’ and the country. He said all police should always be determined to become a martyr, and took pains to tell the force just what a glorious position Islam has for martyrs. Nothing, of course, was said about it being wrong to blow themselves up, and kill others, in the name of Islam in the Islamists’ ‘Holy War.’  

The government’s non-action; its sanguine reaction to the news of Maldivians fighting in Syria; its complete lack of any counter-extremism or counter-radicalisation initiatives; its failure to state its position on whether or not it regards the Maldivian fighters who died in Syria as martyrs or not; and its sanctioning of an Islamist preacher to glorify martyrdom to the Maldives Police Service all combine to make a very loud statement—this government tacitly supports Maldivians fighting and killing themselves in the ‘Holy War’ to establish an Islamic state in Syria. Interesting, given that the Jihadists themselves have little respect for it; and we have already had some experience of what Islamists do to governments they have no respect for.

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