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Umar Naseer under fire over ‘sexist’ tweet

Naseer insisted today that his tweet suggesting that women are among three negative influences that “makes good people bad” was misinterpreted: “Women was used in the context of womanising. It’s about men who has a thirst for women, not women.”



Umar Naseer, former home minister and presidential hopeful, stirred a firestorm of criticism on social media Monday with a tweet suggesting that women are among three negative influences that “makes good people bad.”

Umar Naseer tweet

Naseer was referring to former President Mohamed Nasheed, who resigned after a violent police mutiny in February 2012, and President Abdulla Yameen, who recently apologised for the Maldives’ biggest corruption scandal occurring under his watch.

The tweet sparked outrage and prompted a barrage of responses condemning the “misogynistic” remark and demanding that he apologise for its implicit message.

But in a second tweet, Naseer brought up Mohamed Amin Didi, the Maldives’ first president, who was deposed and beaten by a lynch mob: “A womanising president was beaten to death in the Maldives. So the 3W is true in the Maldives.”

He later deleted both tweets in the face of unrelenting criticism and ridicule.

Naseer told the Maldives Independent today that his tweet was misinterpreted, insisting that it was not disrespectful towards women.

“Women was used in the context of womanising. It’s about men who has a thirst for women, not women,” he stressed.

He said a public apology is not called for as the tweet was “not about women but womanising,” adding that he already enjoyed the support of women for his presidential bid.

Asked why he deleted the tweets, Naseer said: “Because the feminists couldn’t read the political message it contains and I didn’t want them offended.”

Naseer announced his intention to challenge the incumbent president for the ruling party’s presidential ticket days after his surprise resignation from the cabinet in June.

Yumna Maumoon – Naseer’s colleague in the divided ruling party’s faction led by her father, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – was among the first to rebuke him.

In a tweet she has since deleted, the former state minister for education reportedly called Naseer’s remark biased and said men could also be a negative influence for women.

Local women’s rights NGOs Voice of Women and Hope for Women also condemned the tweet. “Please retract your remarks and apologise for this gender biased remark,” said Voice for Women.

Hope for Women said: “We believe that the tweets were misogynistic, deeply undermines women’s dignity and status in the society as well as promotes sexist attitudes towards women.”

Canadian Ambassador to the Maldives, Shelley Whiting, also joined the fray, along with female lawmakers and a former attorney general.

Naseer also drew ridicule with many questioning the wisdom of a presidential candidate insulting half the electorate. The gaffe-prone politician was also compared to American presidential candidate Donald Trump, who is mired in a sexual assault scandal.

Some opposition supporters meanwhile suggested that President Yameen’s remarks in a recent speech were equally offensive and deserving of similar outrage. Addressing supporters in Fuvahmulah, Yameen said the beauty of women from the southern island could cause heart attacks.


Hassan Moosa contributed reporting.