Reaping the Whirlwind in the Maldives



10 July 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 We do not publish material from those who do not provide sufficient personal information to enable us to establish their identity.

Warning to tourists

All foreign tourists coming to Maldives have the right to be well-informed beforehand of the nature of the country that they are going to visit.

Every tourist visiting Maldives should know that the Maldive government has wilfully been active in the promotion of hatred towards foreigners. Even while tourism has been one of the main income earners for the country, and in a manner that doesn’t speak of the courage of its promoters, all this nefarious activity has been perpetrated behind the back of the unwary visitors, but in a way that was very clear to the local people.

Why this double-facedness? Why promote an aggressive and unappreciative spirit? Why not promote enlightenment and industriousness instead of outright xenophobia and loathing of the prosperity that makes our country viable?

What follows is just a sample of President Gayoom’s government’s infamous designs and hypocrisy concerning the way the Maldive state wants its citizens to regard foreign visitors:

In 1992, at the height of the boom of the tourism industry in Maldives, the Sahitya Akademi (a prestigious Indian cultural organisation) undertook the task to prepare an anthology of poetry from the nations that compose SAARC (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka).

This anthology was published in a volume called ‘Gestures; Poetry from SAARC countries’ in New Delhi in 1996. (Satchidanandan K. (editor). pp. 308. ISBN 81-260-0019-8 180.00)

In the prologue of the book, Professor Indra Nath Choudhuri, writes:

“…We were fortunate enough to receive poems from all the member countries except Bhutan. The poems were selected by responsible organisations in the respective countries…”

Now let’s just have a look at the poem selected by a responsible organisation in Maldives; its title is ‘I see it happening’ and it was written by Adam Abdurrahman:

I see it happening

I see a dreadful plague
Spreading its pestilence here
They call it development
They call it refinement.

I see fair-skinned aliens
Coming here from far and wide
Their deeds are foul,
Their actions unacceptable

It is depressing to see the outcome
Of what sadly happens to us
When we follow them
Saying it’s quite alright.

Day becomes night;
Our youth is misled
As without looking back even once
They make themselves go astray.

Even though the stray path lies ahead
And the good is distinguished from the bad
The good is now transformed
It has become the way of the alien

The so-called elixir of thought-enhancement
Seems to have made its debut
The dulling stupor of liquor
Is fondly welcomed too often

Just because they have a day
For the celebration of falsehood
Isn’t it perfectly shocking
That we have to mark the same?

We now eat off the same plate;
We share the same tastes.
I see it happening fast now;
We are evolving into them.

- Adam Abdurrahman

Note: This is not a one-off. This type of literature continues and is encouraged in the Maldives.

This poem is by far the most aggressive in the whole international anthology. These racist and venomous verses were not written by the island version of a skinhead and published on the sly, but by a writer protected and promoted by the Maldive government and its cultural organs.

In addition, the publishing of this poem was endorsed by the Maldive authorities. This poem, which in any civilized country would have landed its writer in trouble for hate-mongering, was actually selected by a “responsible organization” in Maldives and sent to the Sahitya Akademi in India for publication.

What is the reason for commending the writer of such trash instead of scolding him? What is the reason for propagating his venom to the extent of including his poetry in an international poetry anthology? The answer is that the writer is a spokesman for the official ideology of the Maldive government, and that the poem ‘I see it happening’ is spelling the official state ideology of Mr Gayoom and his ruling team word by word. Needless to mention that an average Maldive poet, without high government approval, would not have managed to get his poem published in the Sahitya Akademi’s SAARC anthology.

So, what is the official Maldive state ideology? During the last 27 years the Maldive government has been squeezing foreign exchange out of the tourists, while at the same time insulting them and encouraging its citizens to criticize them and their ways. For the Maldive state, not only doesn’t have laws against criticism of other doctrines, but even the President himself is the main promoter of such a hate-mongering activity. Note that Gayoom’s bashing of the Christmas celebration is not unlike the 7th verse of the poem above. Coincidence? No way!

Dheenuge Magu (The Road of the Religion)
Published by The Office of the President of the Republic. Malé Maldives. 23 December 1988

We need to protect ourselves from the undesirable foreign influences

Nowadays, there are many Maldivians who have gone abroad for different reasons and the number of foreigners coming to the Maldives is very high too. For this reason, the introduction of matters that are in disagreement with our Islamic doctrine and our Islamic principles is fast approaching us. Therefore we have to be prepared and keep our eyes very open.

This season is the time when the Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus (Peace be upon Him). However, they do so in a way that is totally opposed to the holy religion that He (Jesus) brought. In this occasion the Christians mostly make use of alcohol and commit abominable actions.

December 25th, the day that Christians believe Jesus (Peace be upon Him) came to this world, is a date that has been ascribed without any genuine foundation at all.

That day (December 25th) is the day that was fixed, at the end of the 3rd century AD, by the Roman emperor Aurelian to commemorate the birth of the sun-god and the Christians began to celebrate it too.

Present day historians believe that the Prophet Jesus came to this world four years before the Christian chronology. When there is such a great margin of error as to which year that Prophet (Jesus) was born, just imagine how enormous the error will be in (the context of) which day Jesus was born!

In any case, we Muslims should know these matters very well and we should explain these things to our children and young people, (because) our greatest duty is to protect them against undesirable foreign influences.

- Maumoon Abdul Gayoom
(President of the Republic)

One cannot imagine say, the King of the Belgians, criticizing Buddhism, or the President of Korea criticising Islam. And such an activity may not be causing many ripples in a closed country like Bhutan, the hermit kingdom. But in the Maldives, where non-Muslim foreign tourists visit every day, this hate-mongering against the West could have disastrous consequences.

The government’s main ideology during the last 27 years has been raising the level of Islamic hysteria, especially among school children, government employees and tourist industry workers. Meanwhile tourists and international development organizations were there to be milked for funds.

Site editor's note:

Recently the ruling Maldive mullahs outlawed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the Maldives because it contains a reference to freedom of worship and equal rights for men and women in marriage.

Three years ago on Christmas Day, while I came online to check the weather forecast, a Maldive doctoral student at a university in New Zealand contacted me via my online chat facility. He was using his university account and was physically at his university study on Christmas Day in order to demonstrate to the rest of the world that he had nothing to do with that "disgusting infidel" festival.

On a subsequent Friday he again came online and told me that he had just attended the mosque in order to discharge his obligation to Allah. He had taken time off the "infidel" university that had the gall not to close for the Islamic sabbath. The mosque he attended was built under a resource consent issued by the local "infidel" city council. He was able to enjoy all these "benefits" because of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the tolerance of his "infidel" hosts who were sponsoring him out of their taxes, some of which was levied on their "sinful" interest income.

On several Fridays, he kept asking me repeatedly if I had attended the Friday Islamic worship. This Maldive doctoral student was using a New Zealand public facility in order to exercise interference as defined in Section 13 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. He was also committing harassment as defined in in Section 3(1) of the Harassment Act 1997. Such was his callous disregard for the laws of his "infidel" hosts.

It will be interesting to see what this individual now thinks of his government's outlawing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in order to deny the freedom of worship that he enjoyed so much while in this "infidel" country.

The Arab schools in Maldives, Mawhad and Arabiyya, and the further education in hard-line Islamic "universities" abroad, have been part of a grand strategy by Gayoom’s government to create a country of Islamic hard-liners right at the moment when tourism was booming.

Meanwhile the prosperity brought by tourism, reducing unemployment and bringing in foreign exchange has been taken for granted. The official ideology didn’t promote any gratitude, as if tourists would keep coming regardless of the insincerity of the welcoming smiles.

It is understandable that the government may warn its citizens against social evils, especially regarding drinking alcohol or prostitution, but in Maldives the government with a preacher-president at the helm went many steps further: Employees at tourist resorts have been forced to attend the five daily prayers at the resort mosque, even though in their island they may never do so, for traditionally Maldivians were used to take Islam in their own mellow way. But this local mellowness was never promoted by Gayoom; instead he fought against it fiercely during his long tenure. The local radio and TVM have been propagating Gayoom’s hard-line hate-mongering Islamic ideology, aimed especially at the youth, for the past 27 years. So now the whole country has become a hornets’ nest full of young Islamic hard-liners. Can Gayoom control them now? We think no one can.

The same government spokesmen or other hard-liners who complain that tourists have spoiled the local traditions look the other way when Arab preachers indulge in a much deeper and far-reaching destruction of our Maldive traditions. They don’t complain when some of our youth have been lured into such evils as polygamy and sanctioned murder.

Inevitably, Gayoom’s policies have borne fruit. Some Maldivians have been recruited as jihadists while “studying” abroad and gone to places like Chechnya and Afghanistan to indulge in religiously-approved murder. But that is not a problem for the Maldive state. There they were, those thugs, freshly released from Guantanamo Bay, on TV Maldives being interviewed and made heroes of. We all saw them this year in April.

So what is the government going to do after breeding all those ready-to-murder Christian-West-hating fanatics? Didn’t they foresee that some of them, even though a few, if let loose could wreak havoc on the tourist industry? For most of these students of Islamic ‘universities’ are itching to put into practice what they have learnt: To murder the kafirs in order to extend their fanatical religion.

One of these days anyone among the increasing number of fanatic Islamic Maldive students might well decide to practise their skills on unwary ‘Christian’ visitors to the Maldives.

Therefore, as long as the situation doesn’t change, and it doesn’t seem likely that it will change anytime soon, for both the government and the opposition are engaged in promoting radical Islam with the same enthusiasm, tourists should exercise caution and inform themselves well before they visit the Maldives. We don’t like Maldives to be poor or in trouble, we would like our country to be peaceful and prosperous in the future but the situation now doesn’t look good. Instead of promoting goodwill and enlightened attitudes, President Gayoom has unfortunately been sowing the wind by propagating an intransigent and violent doctrine. When it will be the time for reaping the whirlwind, we as Maldivians, would not want any tourist to get hurt.