Ex-pres Yameen voices concern over lack of action against MDN report

Former president of Maldives Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyyoom has described the report issued by Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) titled "Preliminary Assessment on Radicalisation in the Maldives" as a 'test', and warned of the consequences of not taking appropriate action over the matter.

Speaking at a rally held by the opposition on Friday night, President Yameen said he was flabbergasted that the government was not dealing with the matter more 'sternly'.

The 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.

Referring to the government's assurance that the matter will be thoroughly investigated, Yameen questioned which part of the report required investigation as its content were clear and direct.

"What is there to look into? The report's contents are apparent. What more is there to investigate? The President should not take two weeks to consider the matter.We should not allow the president the opportunity to take action on an issue after the uproar over it dies down. The president should be the first one to speak on it. The president is the one responsible for implementing action", the former president criticized.

"The President's failure to take action, and his lax attitude shows this matter is not important to him", accused Yameen.

President Yameen further claimed that such incidents which mock Islam become more frequent during main-ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) administrations, and said disrespecting religion is a usual occurrence within the party.

Yameen said the report by MDN was 'testing' Maldivians with the participation of the government, with the intention of assessing how Maldivians react to the report's content. While the current government does not have the capability to put a stop to such actions, the consequences of ignoring such issues will be dire, said Yameen.

"They are speaking of investigating the issue because they cannot take action. The government does not have the capability to take action, and they won't. They are saying [the organization] has been suspended. What happens if the organization is suspended? Foreign ministers give an account of the issue. No, no, this is not what happened. This suspension is a temporary cessation of activity until the matter is investigated. This is not really a suspension - This is how Maldivians are now subjected to live", said Yameen.

The Foreign Ministry on Thursday issued a statement that said the imposed cessation of activities on MDN will be effective for the duration of the State’s investigation into the matter. The statement further said the Maldives Government remains fundamentally committed to upholding all the rights enshrined in the Constitution, including those of free expression.

Noting that many parties have attempted to introduce other religions to the Maldives over the years, Yameen recalled that a radio channel named Feba Radio was broadcast in Dhivehi language by Maldivians abroad to spread information on other religions in the Maldives during the presidency of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom. Yameen said Feba Radio was funded by a wealthy businessman from Maldives, and asked to which organization the man belongs to.

The former president further said Maldivians would not allow for Islam to be disrespected, and that any attack on Islam would not be tolerated by Maldivians

Referring to the new terrorism bill ratified by the President on Friday, Yameen questioned why amendments were brought to the Terrorism Act. At the time the law was passed, the issue of the report was already on the table, said Yameen. He then questioned if the purpose of the amendments were to arrest those who oppose the contents of the MDN report.