Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Islamist Trouble In The Maldives After President Mohamed Nasheed Forced To Resign

There's trouble in paradise, it seems. The Maldives- the chichi resort destination for the rich and sometimes-famous located in the Indian Ocean- also happens to be exclusively Muslim; no tolerance for other religions here. But the most recent president, Mohamed Nasheed (a human rights, pro-democracy activist who toppled the 30 year reign of his predecessor), was the first democratically-elected president in the history of the Island nation. He also didn't last long. Elected in 2008, he claims he was forced to resign at gunpoint on February 7, 2012 after a mutiny- read, coup d'etat- by police.

Apparently, trouble had been brewing for several weeks after Nasheed ordered the arrest of the Chief Justice of the Criminal Court, Abdulla Mohamed"for corruption, in particular for allowing his judicial decisions to be determined by political and personal affiliations and interests", and for releasing  Dr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, a government critic .  Ahmed was said to have made “slanderous” allegations that Nasheed's government was in cahoots with “Jews and Christian priests” to weaken Islam in the Maldives by bringing Christianity to the islands, establishing diplomatic ties with Israel, and doing business with Jews.

The Maldives have always had a somewhat moderate take on Islam, but Islamists are a growing problem there, as they are elsewhere. Nasheed had troubles earlier last year with religious hardliners who believed him to be too liberal, and therefore un-Islamic, calling for more conservative policies. And yesterday, a mob of those Islamic radicals trashed a bunch of statues (including some Buddhist ones) in the national museum, because idolatry is forbidden in Islam.

Nasheed's successor, Vice President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik says he had nothing to do with the change of guard, but that seems unlikely. However, he has promised to protect Nasheed, and has called for peace and a unity government.

Ironically, the country is set for presidential elections next November. 

With an economy that is largely dependent upon tourism, the Maldivians better think twice about allowing their radical, ultra religious elements to gain control.  Religious fundamentalism and tourism don't mix. The current situation is already causing problems with tourism.  There are many beautiful Island paradises without the religious baggage that the Maldive Islands obviously have.

Other sources: Guardian UK, BBC, WebIndia

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