Muted response to death threat against president, vice president

Muted response to death threat against president, vice president
September 01 16:30 2015

The Maldives government’s response to a YouTube video posted on Monday threatening to kill President Abdulla Yameen and Vice President Ahmed Adeeb and launch terror attacks against the tourism industry has been muted.

The president’s office and the home ministry were not responding to calls all day today.

A police spokesman said the video, posted by the username Slavery Slave, is under investigation, but declined to comment further.

The video has since been removed.

In the video, three men with their faces covered with balaclavas warned of “life-threatening” attacks against the president and vice president as well as terrorist attacks against resorts if the government does not stop “harassing” Ibrahim ‘Sandhaanu’ Moosa Luthfy in Switzerland, release Adhaalath Party president Sheikh Imran Abdulla, and withdraw new anti-terrorism legislation.

Speaking to The Maldives Independent, Luthfy has dismissed the video as government propaganda to silence opposition activists working abroad.

“Yameen’s government has silenced the opposition in Maldives and now they are attacking people who are working abroad to expose the crimes and corruption in his government,” he said.

Although the video carries the symbols of the Islamic State (IS), several Maldivians who support the IS or live in IS controlled territory have dismissed the video as inauthentic on social media.

Ibrahim Mohamed, the spokesperson of the Islamic Ministry, condemned the video saying threats of violence are un-Islamic. He acknowledged that extremism is a serious matter in the Maldives.

“Extremism has to be tackled through legitimate Islamic teaching at school. The children should be though that Islam is not about violence and threats,” he said.

Hundreds of Maldivians are believed to be fighting with militant groups in the Middle East, but the authenticity of the video and its links to IS remains unclear.

The government has been criticized for its soft response to the spread of extremist ideologies in the Maldives.

A similar threat of violence was made against Jamaican dancehall singer Sean Paul shortly before new year’s eve. Paul subsequently cancelled his visit. A week later, American R&B artist Akon performed at a packed show in Malé without any security concerns.

Sheikh Imran was arrested on June 1 and charged with terrorism for allegedly inciting violence at a historic anti-government protest on May 1. He has been under police custody for more than 100 days. The terrorism trial has been stalled since June after two judges on the three-judge panel were promoted to the High Court.

The men also demanded that the government “immediately cease” its efforts to bring back ‘Sandhaanu’ Luthfy to the Maldives from Switzerland.

Luthfy resigned as President Yameen’s human rights envoy to the Maldives’ permanent mission in Geneva in February. He has since been a vocal critic of the current administration on social media.

Luthfy was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Gayoom administration for publishing an anti-government newspaper. He was granted clemency by Gayoom’s successor, former President Mohamed Nasheed and was appointed as an advisor to President Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan in September 2012 after returning to the Maldives from self-imposed exile in Switzerland.

The government meanwhile submitted new anti-terrorism legislation to the parliament in late July. The bill is currently at the committee stage and is likely to be passed when the parliament returns from recess in October.

The proposed law would make it a criminal offence to travel overseas to join foreign civil wars.