Mass Deception in the Maldives
Some Questions



20 October 2005

This opinion and others linked here are contributed by a group of Maldivians who call themselves the Society for the Promotion of Human Rights in Maldives. They wish to remain anonymous in order to avoid being persecuted. This web site and its editor do not have any input into these opinions or the Society for the Promotion of Human Rights in Maldives, other than providing a forum, as required by Law. This opinion is published within the context of Section 14 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. We do not publish material from those who do not provide sufficient personal information to enable us to establish their identity.

Mullahs officiate at MDP meeting
Words have lost their original meaning in the Maldives. The main opposition party is called MDP, Maldivian Democratic Party. But it is very hard to understand how a party dares to call itself ‘democratic’ when its main goal is to promote Islam.

One would think that a democratic party in the Maldives should have begun to shift from the age-old business of sponsoring Islamic religion by the government, to promote the rights of the Maldive individual. That is what democracy is all about, namely to pull down freedom-stifling theocracies and to bring about a scenario where individual rights can be safely exercised.

But what freedom can there be in the Maldives if the obsolete feudal politico-religious system is perpetuated?

The foundation of the present tyranny in the Maldives is a well-locked power deal between a particular religion and a particular dominant political group. The Islamic religion and the dictator protect each other as efficiently as two chess pieces in the centre of the board; it is almost impossible to attack one without having to deal with the instant and fatal retribution the other will wreak.

This is a timeless arrangement and a very solid system, the tyrant may change with time, but the authority of the religion remains the same. At any rate, this is an antiquated scheme; the rights of the individual Maldivian are totally left out of the picture.

Considering this scenario, the fact that Mullah Fareed is joining the MDP is nothing more than a confirmation that the MDP is not going to do anything new in Maldive politics. In spite of its flamboyant name, the MDP is merely going to follow the archaic system of religion-preaching politicians that has been ruling Maldivians for centuries.

The MDP has no intention of breaking with this Maldive political system that is so comfortable for the ruler once in power. Power may be difficult to attain in the Maldives, but once reached what a sweet reward for the ruler to have such a well-oiled system in place in order to keep the people’s freedoms and aspirations conveniently stifled.

In the wake of Mullah Fareed’s astonishing popularity, a careful and impartial observer can only say that the length to which Maldivians are able to deceive themselves has no limit. One wonders which reasons Maldivians could have to consider Fareed more honest than Gayoom, when it is so obvious that he uses his knowledge about Islam in order to portray himself as the defender of Islam in the Maldives. This is exactly what Gayoom has been doing for the past three decades, hardly anything new in the Maldives.

So what is the special thing that Fareed could contribute to the Maldive political life? What is the new thing Fareed could bring to a new Maldive democratic society?

It is difficult to say. Fareed has copied Gayoom’s style and perfected it. He is the pupil who has overtaken his teacher. Now that Gayoom is having a hard time, Fareed uses the popularity he so much basks in to undermine the present government, claiming that he upholds the truth and that Allah is with him. He loves to conveniently quote Allah and Islam when it suits him and his personal purposes. Besides, it is also obvious that Fareed takes enormous pleasure in the flattery bestowed upon him, somewhat naïvely, by unwary Maldive crowds.

When asking any of Fareed’s admirers why they give him so much support, the answer is usually that “he says good things”. People like them forget (or refuse to see) that “people saying good things”, like Fareed, brought a country like Afghanistan to chaos, ruin, and total collapse, causing thousands of deaths. People fail to see how their unquestionable admiration for Islam is setting them a death-trap. Unless the role of Islam in Maldive society is put into question, democracy in the Maldives will be a distant unreachable mirage.

Will easy-preacher Fareed be able to deal with the anarchy he is unleashing with his phoney, and too easy, condemnations of the present government?

The answer is no.

Basically Fareed’s behaviour is fraught with opportunism. He is taking full advantage of the present situation, one in which the blunders of the old dictator have made him unpopular. And yet at the same time Fareed is keenly aware of how Gayoom became well-liked by Maldivians twenty-seven years ago. Using the all-too-easy quote from the Koran here, along with the well-placed scathing criticism of the ruler there, Mullah Fareed is climbing the Maldive popularity ladder. This is exactly like Gayoom did to then President Nasir almost thirty years ago when he came back from Egypt having studied Islam.

Is that then the goal of the MDP; to replace the present Islamic dictator by a new, younger religious tyrant?

Will the Maldives be again back to square one thirty years from now?

Rules of Procedure of the Maldivian Democratic Party

Section 3.3 (a) of the MDP Rules of Procedure states that the Party shall endeavour to protect and preserve the "esteemed religion of Islam" and that the Party shall not permit any religion other than Islam.


In July 2005, an academic from the United States asked the MDP the question:

"I’ve been following developments in the MDP for quite some time. I have a very simple question though, and would appreciate a simple, straightforward answer: Does the MDP support the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights?"

The reply to him from Ali Hashim, the Party’s Vice Chairperson on 20 July was:

"A straightforward simple answer would be YES.

"However, in the forthcoming National Congress a Party Policy will be formulated to decide on how to adopt the articles in the Manifesto, which we believe covers the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These will be specific covenants and pledges in conformity with the majority opinion of MDP members.

"Warm regards and salaams"

Section 3.3 (a) of the party's Rules of Procedure directly contravenes Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Either the the Vice Chairperson was misinforming the outside world (just like the Maldive government) or the Rules of Procedure is wilfully deceptive.

The Maldivian Democratic Party seems to be attempting to serve two constituencies- the the Maldive mullahs and their narrow-minded backers on the one side and the Western financial markets on the other. They must understand the cliché that it is not possible to eat the cake and have it.

The usage of the words Maldive and Maldivian in the main article above have been changed for consistency with the rest of the site.