Nasheed defends contentious MDN report

Speaker of the Parliament and former president of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed has stated that he does not believe the contentious report issued by Maldives Democracy Network (MDN) was not written to incite hate towards Islam and to weaken the Islamic faith.

Nasheed's statement comes amid a national uproar over the report titles ‘Preliminary Assessment on Radicalisation in the Maldives’ which described Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) and Islamic principles in derogatory terms.

Speaking as the chief guest at a ceremony held to launch Sheikh Hussain Rasheed Ahmed's translation of Sahih Muslim Hadith book, Nasheed said he read the full report written by MDN and said he does not believe the authors of the report used terms and phrasing that could incite hatred towards Islam. He noted that some references to Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) were disrespectful, and acknowledged it was not acceptable.

However, he does not believe the usage of the disrespectful terms to be intentional, said Nasheed.

"After reading the report, I do not believe the authors of the report used their choice of phrasing with the intention of disrespect. They were attempting to express themselves in English, which resulted in its usage. It happens when you have studied at some universities for long periods", defended Nasheed.

Nasheed said such incidents may occur when writing about complex religious issues without being properly familiarized on the subject, noting that 47 members of the parliament also condemned the wordings used in the report.

The former president further stated that the report throws light on issues that exist in the Maldives.

"MDN report highlights issues that exist in our society. The issues we face and how Islam is used to send fighters to wars", said Nasheed.

The contentious report issued in 2016 challenged principles and teachings of Islam in the Holy Quran, and disrespected Prophet Mohamed (PBUH).The report outlined several verses from the Quran and 'hadith' of Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) as examples of ideas included in school text books that contribute to promulgation of radical worldviews.

The contents of the report have prompted harsh criticism from the public and religious scholars, with scores expressing their outrage and concern on the report. MDN has since apologized for the contents of the report, and retracted it from their website. While the organisation has stated that they are working with Islamic scholars to revise the report, some members of the organization have defended the report on social media platforms.

With a large number of people are calling on authorities to arrest the authors of the report and ban MDN, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has assured that the matter will be thoroughly investigated and appropriate measures will be taken as stipulated under the Maldives constitution.