Government supporters have seized upon criticism in a resolution adopted Thursday by the European parliament over the lack of freedom of religion in the Maldives.
Calling for targeted sanctions in response to a protracted political crisis, the 16-point resolution also strongly criticised “the fact that the practice of non-Muslim faiths is severely punishable in the Maldives” and expressed concern that “the Religious Unity Act is being used to limit freedom of expression”.
In its rebuttal, the government said: “The constitution of Maldives, the social framework and historical and traditional values, do not allow for religions other than Islam to be publicly practiced in the country.”
It added assurances of “firm commitment to promote moderation, mutual respect, and understanding towards other religions and nationalities.”
While the opposition celebrated Thursday’s resolution as a sign of mounting international pressure, headlines such as “EU passes resolution calling to give religious freedom in Maldives” (Vaguthu) and “Should we sacrifice our Dhivehiness to please foreigners?” (Sun) emerged on pro-government media.
“The efforts to wipe out Islam and nationhood from this country was just openly announced. This is the time religious scholars should come out and speak out openly,” Islamic Minister Dr Ahmed Ziyad urged.
Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muizz tweeted: “Their true purpose is very clear. That a few people with Maldivian blood, directly and indirectly, out of greed for power, aid their efforts to allow the freedom to follow religions other than Islam in this country is something righteous Maldivians should wake up to.”
MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla, the ruling party’s deputy leader, told the press Friday afternoon that the opposition’s daily protests were anti-Islamic.
“Those coming out to join the protests taking place now are definitely coming out against Islam. I regret that some people worked in the name of protecting Islam in the Maldives are seen in their ranks,” he said.
My name is Ahmed Nihan & I strongly condemn the EU Parliament resolution calling for freedom of religion in Maldives against article 9 & 10 of our Constitution. We are a 100% Muslim nation & we have the right to remain with the religion we embraced 865 years ago. @EU_Maldives
— Ahmed Nihan (@ahmed_nihan) March 15, 2018
My name is Ibrahim Didi (MP For Seenu Feydhoo Constituency) & I strongly condemn the EU Parliament resolution calling for freedom of religion in Maldives. We are a 100% Muslim nation & we have the right to remain so ! @EU_Maldives @Europarl_EN
— Ibrahim Didi (@mp_ibdidi) March 15, 2018
We Maldivians strongly condemn the EU Parliament resolution calling for freedom of religion in Maldives against article 9 & 10 of our Constitution. We are a 100% Muslim nation & we have the right to remain with the religion we embraced 865 years ago. #asurumaa pic.twitter.com/7n5yFvU9nw
— asurumaa (@asurumaa_mv) March 15, 2018
It is not @EU_Maldives mandate to decide Maldives should allow freedom of religion which is unconstitutional by referring to article 9 & 10 of the constitution of Maldives. I urge the whole world to respect our laws. pic.twitter.com/NWcTqRICjg
— Ibrahim Saeed (Cade) 🕯🇲🇻 🌐 (@icayd) March 15, 2018
Did you know that Germany alone has more than 800,000 homeless people? What will be more important for them? The religion Maldivians follow or a shelter?
— Rumaalu 2 – ♦2 (@rumaalu2) March 15, 2018
“And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam it will never be accepted of him and in the hereafter he will be one of the losers.” (3:85) @EUCouncil or @UN no resolution or what so ever can call for freedom of religion! #Maldives will never allow freedom of religion! pic.twitter.com/Nenz95PneK
— Jinan Jaleel (@JinanJaleel) March 15, 2018
Dhivehi Raajjeyge dheenakee hama ekani Islam dheen kamah onna othuma medhu hasadhaveri vaa kaafirun naa emeehunge ekuverin kithanme masakkatheh kuri kamugaiviyas iraadha kureviyya ekan kaamiyaabeh nuvaane.
— Ali Zahir bin Saeed (@alizahirsaeed) March 16, 2018
“No matter how much work the infidels and their friends envious of Islam being the only religion in the Maldives do, God willing it will not succeed.” – dean of the Maldives National University’s faculty of law and Islamic studies.
ALLAH AKBAR. pic.twitter.com/9mEfz7BEVV
— علي رميز بن قاسم (@aliramyz) March 15, 2018
Does this use of religion even work anymore, especially when people like Imran are in jail?
PPM likes to believe it does, and some people like Ali Zahir has given it some weight, but no one else is bothered.
People recognise it for what it is – cynical instrumentalisation. pic.twitter.com/frPgeUBgOQ
— Abdulla🎭Faraz (@n3m6) March 16, 2018