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February 27, 2012 No.
4525

Pamphlet By Maldivian Islamist Party That Triggered Coup Against Reformist President Nasheed: 'No Law Contrary to Islam Can Be Enacted in the Maldives'; Government Taught 'Good Things About the Jews'

A 30-page pamphlet published by the Maldives opposition Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), which accused the government of pursuing anti-Islam policies and of establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, triggered what has been described as a coup leading to the ouster of reformist President Mohamed Nasheed. The document accused the Nasheed government of supporting Western governments in international forums, and claimed that it was teaching "good things about the Jews." Mohamed Nasheed headed the first elected democratic government of the Maldives, a group of islands situated about 400 km southwest of India.

As part of the protests triggered by the D QP pamphlet, on February 7, 2012, the Adhaalath Party, an Islamist party that had been part of the ruling coalition, declared President Nasheed as haram (a person or thing not permitted by Islam) and Vice President Dr. Mohamed Waheed as halal (permitted by Islam), leading to Nasheed's ouster and the swearing-in of Dr. Waheed as the country's new president.

Below are excerpts from the DQP pamphlet,[1] and from two articles, one by political commentator Azra Naseem on the rise of Islamists in Maldives,[2] and one by Indian journalist Indrani Bagchi on the infiltration of Pakistani jihadist groups into the country, the arrest of Maldivian militants in Pakistan, and lectures by Islamist scholars from India, Pakistan and the Middle Eastern countries.[3]


Pamphlet published by the Maldives opposition Dhivehi Qaumee Party

The DQP Pamphlet

"No Law Contrary to Islam Can Be Enacted in the Maldives; Only Muslims Can Be Citizens of the Maldives; Article 67(g) of the Constitution Obliges All Citizens to Preserve and Protect Islam"

"President Nasheed's devious plot to destroy the Islamic faith of Maldivians

"This book[let] was prepared by the Dhivehi Qaumee Party in consideration of the devious plans of this government to erase the age-old holy religion of Islam from the hearts of the Maldivians, provide opportunities for religions other than Islam, and demolish the religious unity and faith of Maldivians. The book[let] sheds light on the government's actions against Islam so far.

"The high honor accorded to Islam

"It is certain that the religion that we have followed without wavering for over 800 [years] is the true religion and the last religion revealed by God Almighty. In verse five [sic; the correct verse is three] of the Al-Maida Surah [chapter] of the Holy Quran, God reveals, '[...] and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.'

"And in verse 19 of the Al-Imran Surah, God reveals, 'The only religion approved by God is Submission [Islam].'

"Constitutional role of Islam in the Maldives

"The Maldives is a nation based on Islamic principles. Islam is the state religion. Islam is the main basis of Maldivian law. No law contrary to Islam can be enacted in the Maldives. Only Muslims can be citizens of the Maldives.

"Even the fundamental rights guaranteed in the constitution can be protected in a manner that is not contrary to any tenet of Islam. No one has the right to commit any act that is forbidden under Islamic Shariah. Freedom of expression is provided to citizens as long as it is not used in a manner contrary to any tenet of Islam.

"Submitting to Islam, obeying and inducing love for it is encouraged in the education system.

"The constitution does not stop at according with fluent phrases a high status for Islam. Article 67(g) of the constitution obliges all citizens to preserve and protect Islam. This constitutional responsibility is entrusted the most to the head of state as the nation's ruler."

"[Despite His Education at Al-Azhar, Nasheed] Was Saying Openly That Penalties Clearly Stated in Islamic Shariah Were Unsuited For the Times... That Such Things As Wearing the Veil Were Not Compulsory…"


"Degree of Islamic faith in the Maldives when Nasheed took office

"Religious matters had not been handled ideally when Nasheed took office. We had to spend over 19 years without a Dhivehi[-language] translation of our most sacred book, the Holy Quran. Permission to give sermons and counsel was granted [only] to those who shared the government's thought and philosophy.

"People were locked up and punished over issues like Qunooth [invocation in times of adversity] where scholars of different sects disagree. The beards of religious scholars were shaved with chilli sauce.

"Although the head of state was an al-Azhar University-educated scholar, he said openly that penalties clearly stated in Islamic Shariah were unsuited for the times. In addition to saying that such things as wearing the veil were not compulsory, he showed it to the people in deed through his wife and children.

"Nasheed's golden opportunity and how he used it

"Nasheed became the ruler of this Islamic state on November 11, 2008 through the hard work and prayer of many political, religious and social organizations as well as many sincere citizens. Who among us has forgotten Sheikh Ilyas [Hussein's] emotional prayer in the pouring rain on the last night of the second round of the presidential campaign?

"Nasheed had a golden opportunity to take all of those individuals and groups along, change the way religion was treated before, strengthen Maldivians' Islamic faith and spread the bright light of Islam all across the country. However he missed this golden opportunity. Instead of strengthening the Islamic faith of Maldivians, he tried to weaken it. Instead of preserving the Islamic identity of Maldivians, he worked in ways that would allow other religions [to exist] on this Maldivian soil.

"Instead of aiding Muslims and the Islamic Ummah (community), he tried to please adversaries of Islam and aid them. As a result, the state of affairs has deteriorated to the point where we question whether our over-800- year-old Islamic nation would remain an Islamic nation. Today, visitors to our country have been encouraged to challenge our religion, Shariah and constitution in the most high places of this Islamic state.

"Nasheed's big project to wipe out Maldivians' religious identity

"Since assuming office Nasheed has been working ceaselessly to weaken the Islamic faith of Maldivians, allow space for other religions, and make irreligious and sinful behavior common. And to show that necessary characteristics a ruler and senior officials of an Islamic state must possess are not important, to reduce ties and relations with Muslims and Islamic nations and foster relations with adversaries of Islamic nations."

"Nasheed's Government Established Diplomatic Relations With the Nation [i.e. Israel] That is the Biggest Adversary of Muslims; It Was Agreed to Teach Young Maldivian Children Good Things About the Jews – At the State's Expense"

"Weakening the Islamic faith of Maldivians

"From the day Nasheed took office to the present day, he has undertaken many efforts to weaken the Islamic faith of Maldivians, especially the younger generation of Maldivians. Below are some of these efforts,

"Nasheed began the work of weakening Maldivians' Islamic faith by targeting young children. When Nasheed's government established diplomatic relations [in 2009] with the nation [i.e. Israel] that is the biggest adversary of Muslims, it was agreed to teach young Maldivian children good things about the Jews at the state's expense, by including it in school curricula.

"Along with this, Nasheed tried to make Dhivehi and Islam optional subjects for higher secondary students. And senior officials of Nasheed's government tried to convince the public on national television that the decision was a good one. Nasheed's government acted like this after turning a deaf ear to school heads who had repeatedly talked of the importance of Dhivehi and Islam subjects at the symposium on revising the national curriculum. Nasheed's aim was to turn those who would play a leading role in running the country tomorrow into strangers to Islam and to the Maldivians' mother tongue.

"At the same time as Nasheed's government was trying to make Islam an optional subject, it was also trying to teach Maldivian students subjects of different religions.

"Nasheed's government sent a letter to the relevant authorities seeking the opinion of Maldivian scholars on building temples in the country.

"While working to reduce the importance of religious subjects in the national curriculum, Nasheed's government was at the same time trying to close down schools providing Islamic education. In this vein, the land of the Arabiya [educational institution], which had been providing an Islamic education to young Maldivian children, were expropriated, and the building was demolished. The government did not make adequate temporary arrangements for its students either. And Nasheed's government treated [the Arabiya students'] parents, who gathered outside the President's Office to protest peacefully, more brutally than even serious criminals.

"Mauhad [Islamic College] is an old institution that played one of the most important roles in strengthening Islamic faith among Maldivians. Nasheed's government tore down its walls, placed insurmountable obstacles to its development, and has been working ceaselessly to close it down…."

"The Prophet [Muhammad] Says in a Hadith that Alcohol is the Mother of All Evils" – But the Nasheed Government Permitted Consumption of Alcohol

[Here, the document lists a number of governmental policies allowing idolatry, permitting the sale of alcohol, disallowing live broadcasts by Indian Islamist scholar Dr. Zaik Naik on Maldivian television, permitting the installation of idols in the island, etc. The following are excerpts:]

"After importing idols into the country, protecting [the idols], and locking up those who spoke out against them, and when opposition parties started raising their voices saying it was a serious crime legally and under Shariah, Nasheed said he only heard of the idols after it was destroyed. Everyone, young and old, would know that he lied. Below is a photograph taken while [Nasheed] is watching with the Sri Lankan President the inauguration of one of these idols.

"The Prophet's Hadith illustrates Nasheed's words and actions. [He has] denied everything he said. [He has] broken all his promises. [He has] betrayed his responsibility and trust.

"The idols imported to the Maldives in the name of the SAARC [South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation] summit are not children's toys or items in tourist shops. The idols are representations of god or objects used for worship.

"God reveals in the Holy Quran that idols are unclean.

"Under article 4 of the Contraband Act, importing idols to the country is not at all permitted. Such a thing cannot be authorized regardless of whether it is the government. And those who commit this offence or are involved in it can be sentenced to jail for a period of three to eight years.

"Making alcohol common

"The Prophet says in a Hadith that alcohol is the mother of all evils. And God reveals in verse 90 of Al-Maidha Surah: 'O you who believe! Intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks), gambling, Al-Ansab, and Al-Azlam (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Shaitan's (Satan's) handiwork. So avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be successful.'

"[Consuming] alcohol is even a crime with a punishment prescribed in Islamic Shariah. Those who commit this crime would not fulfil the requirements for head of state, minister, MP or senior post of the state. And if such a crime was committed as an official such a person must be removed from the post…."

[Here, the document lists a number of alleged un-Islamic acts, such as justifying consumption of alcohol, by President Nasheed during his visits to India and Italy. For example:]

"Empty bottles of alcohol have been found in places of ministers in Nasheed's government."

"A large amount of alcohol was found in the car of Nasheed's party MDP's parliamentary group leader Reeko Moosa Manik…."

"Nasheed's Main Priority Was Fostering Ties with Jews; [the Nasheed Government Tried To] Familiarize Maldivians with Jews and Israel, Show Their Virtue, and Induce Love and Empathy in Maldivian Hearts; Allah Reveals in the Quran: 'Never Will the Jews Nor the Christians Be Pleased with You (O Muhammad….'"

"Helping the Jews instead of aiding the poor people of Palestine

"From the days when Israel came into being in 1948 to the present day they have been brutalizing the Palestinian people and, aside from committing massacres and war crimes, they are enslaving the people. Since 2006 Gaza where many millions live has been blocked from land, air and sea and all its inhabitants enslaved and locked up. Nevertheless after coming to power Nasheed's main priority was fostering ties with Jews. To this day Nasheed's government has done a lot of work to form close ties with Israel. Among these include those listed below:

"Nasheed's government first decided to establish relations with Israel less than 10 days after the UN representative decided it had committed war crimes against the poor people of Palestine. At the time the whole world was speaking out against Israel and condemning Israel's actions. The way Nasheed's government acted told Maldivians,and the world, that this 100% [Muslim] Maldivian state approves of Israel's war crimes.

  • "When Nasheed's government disregarded the war crimes and established diplomatic ties with that nation, on the initiative of Adhaalath Party [or Justice Party] the Maldivian people were collecting donations to help the innocent Palestinian people and families who were subjected to Israel's atrocities!
  • "When the act of attacking, on 31 May 2010, a vessel travelling to Palestine to assist the poor people of Palestine enslaved by the Jews, during which 15 people were marty[r]ed and many others wounded, was loudly condemned by the Christian nations of Europe, Hindu nations like India, and nations of the idol religion, Nasheed's government said nothing in an official capacity….
  • "One of the things agreed upon during Nasheed's government establishing ties with Israel was the insertion of stories of Israel and of Jews and their history into Maldivian culture and the education system, and telling Maldivians of their virtue. These are things even non-Muslim nations are hesitant to do regarding Israel.
  • "To familiarize Maldivians with Jews and Israel, show their virtue, and induce love and empathy in Maldivian hearts, Nasheed's government has brought in teams under different names, such as doctors and agriculturists, and begun the actual work of acquainting Maldivians with the Jews.
  • "Nasheed's government has also authorized Israeli flights to land in Maldives. As the people of Israel do not visit the country as tourists, there is no reason for flights from that country to come to the Maldives. Moreover, it is likely that with the commencement of flights from Israel, the country will face unimaginable security risks, great dangers, and devastation of the country's tourism. However, Nasheed's government pays no heed even to such a danger.
  • "Nasheed's government has decided to give numerous plots of land and uninhabited islands to Israel.
  • "Some family members of Nasheed and some senior members of Nasheed's government have business ties with Jews.
  • "And Nasheed's current foreign minister, 'Kerafa' Naseem, voted on behalf of the Maldives at the UN to [recognize] Israel as an independent nation [by cosponsoring a UN resolution on Holocaust denial]. Naseem's action was contrary to both the order and view of the government at the time.
  • "There is no doubt that there are hidden secrets behind why they are trying so hard to establish relations with people who have been so antagonistic towards Muslims.
  • "That Israel has always made proposals in various ways and run after small nations to show the Muslim world and other countries that Israel's inhumane actions are good is not a novel claim in the international area. It is certain that a country like Israel would not find it hard to discover that the Maldives today has come out begging with the economic coconut bowl, and that it has a leader eying various international awards. Allah reveals in the Quran: 'Never will the Jews nor the Christians be pleased with you (O Muhammad Peace be upon him) till you follow their religion.'"

Nasheed Has Specifically Stated "That He Does Not Believe That Capital Punishment and Amputation for Thieves – Which Are Clearly Stated in Islamic Shariah – Should Be Included in the Punishments Specified in the Penal Code"

"Carrying out activities against Muslim nations

"While on the one hand establishing closer ties with the biggest adversary of Muslims, Nasheed's government was turning hostile towards Muslim nations. Below are some of Nasheed's government's actions in this vein:

"While on one hand establishing closer ties with Israel, on the other hand, at a time when Israel was very openly announcing it would attack Iran's nuclear plants, Nasheed's government accepted the responsibility of observing and reporting on human rights in Iran…."

"In addition, while European nations and America were recognizing [Libyan leader Mu'ammar] Qadhafi during the civil unrest in Libya that began earlier this year, Nasheed's government announced in April 2011 that it did not recognize the Libyan government at the time.

"Compared to the visits of Nasheed and senior officials of Nasheed's government to other countries, [the number of] visits to Islamic nations is disproportionately low. This reveals how small the importance of Muslims and Islamic nations is in the government's view.

"Making sinful behavior common

[Here the document lists incidents of what it calls are sinful conduct by government officials during the Nasheed government. Some examples are given below:]

"...State ministers and deputy ministers of Nasheed's government, and other close allies of Nasheed, carried out many sinful acts naked on the Internet. None of the people who committed such sinful behavior were removed from their posts….

"Instead of investigating the sinful acts committed by senior officials of Nasheed's government, it took action against those who brought the sinful act to the public!

"Some people among Nasheed's ministers and close associates have served sentences for engaging in sexual relations, recording the images and making it public.

"The Prophet has said that if you lack shame, you will do anything you please.

"Becoming modern and ashamed of being Islamic…."

[Here, the document lists incidents which it says promote anti-Islamic behavior in Maldives – beauty contests, disco parties, government ministers wearing skirts during events in Maldives and abroad, etc.]

"Christian priests as Nasheed's consuls

"Among those who help Nasheed make decisions on important matters include persons who work to promote different religions. The most notable of these is an English priest named David Hardingham. He is one of those who helped Nasheed the most when was an activist. Hardingham and his friends were acting then under the name of 'Friends of Maldives.'

"After Nasheed came to power, on 9 July 2010 he established an office for said Hardingham in Salisbury, England. As a result, upon the wishes of the ruler of this Islamic nation, the money of Maldivian citizens is being spent on a Christian priest.

"Opposing the punishments of Islam

"Nasheed has created doubt in people's hearts about clearly stated punishments in Islamic Shariah and opposed such punishments. Below are some of the matters noted thus:

  • "[Nasheed] said in his 19th radio address that he does not believe that capital punishment and amputation for thieves that are clearly stated in Islamic Shariah should be included in the punishments specified in the penal code.
  • "When UN human rights representative Pillay who visited in November this year [2011] said she does not accept Shariah punishments like flogging fornicators, instead of condemning it as head of state [Nasheed] supported her statement…."

"Considering the Direction of Nasheed and His government… Maldives will not Remain a 100 Percent Muslim Nation; Followers of Other Religions and Their Places of Worship will Become Established in the Country"

"Bringing scholars into disrepute

"Nasheed and Nasheed's government has characterized the Maldives as a nest of terrorists and Maldivian scholars as terrorists. Below are points noted thus,

  • "Nasheed's government has characterized people [Islamic scholars] like Sheikh Fareed and Sheikh Ilyas as extremists and terrorists.
  • "In an interview with Al-Jazeera, [Nasheed] said that while over 1,000 students are being educated at [Arabic schools] run by the government, those places teach children to become extremists and that he would put a stop to it.

"The state of the country at the end of Nasheed's big project

"Considering the direction of Nasheed and his government and the speed of travel, if this government's direction and speed is not defeated, there is no doubt that Maldivians would have to face the bitter consequences noted below"

  • "Maldives will not remain a 100 percent Muslim nation.
  • "The faith of Maldives, especially today's children and tomorrow's young generation, will be extremely weakened.
  • "Sinful and unacceptable behavior will become common.
  • "Noble principles of Islam and the right path will be characterized as shameful.
  • "Followers of other religions and their places of worship will become established in the country.
  • "[We will] become estranged from Islamic nations and adversaries of Islam and Muslims will become friends of Maldivians.

"What should be done to be freed from Nasheed's plotting

  • "A lot of work has to be done to save ourselves from Nasheed and his government's dangerous actions. Every citizen should resolve to do everything possible with tongue and pen, financially and otherwise, within the confines of Islamic Shariah and the law.
  • "Not supporting or voting for Nasheed and those who give precedence to the philosophy of his government, or for anyone among their allies and friends, and urging those who might vote for them not to do so and explaining the consequences of their doing so. And especially not supporting or voting [for Nasheed] in 2013.
  • "Not to give any financial assistance to Nasheed or his ruling party and urging those who might provide such an assistance to not do it and explaining the consequences of their doing so.
  • "Doing everything possible to strengthen the faith of our children without relying on this government, its institutions and the current education system.
  • "During each Umra [mini-Hajj], each Hajj, after each prayer and act of worship, pray to God to protect our nation and religion and keep our beloved nation always as a 100 percent nation.
  • "Call senior officials of the government, send texts, and use modern services like Facebook and Twitter to raise your voices against such things.
  • "Since the most important constitutional responsibility for holding the government is laid upon members of the People's Majlis [parliament], every citizen should call his MP [Member of Parliament] and urge them to stop this government's irreligious activities and increase calls for holding the government accountable. And do not vote for MPs who do not comply in the future.

"Conclusion

"Under divine law, God Almighty has given us the opportunity to change our condition. Allah reveals in the Holy Quran, 'Verily! Allah will not change the good condition of a people as long as they do not change their state of goodness themselves.'

"Let us resolve in the right way to change our condition."

Article by Political Commentator Azra Naseem

In an article titled "Operation Haram to Halal – the Islamist role in replacing Nasheed with Waheed," political commentator Azra Naseem noted the rise of Islamists in Maldives. Following are excerpts from her article:

"Having Declared Nasheed a Heretic on 7 February, the Adhaalath Party… Called On People to Stand Up Against Nasheed 'With Swords and Guns' If Needs Be; [According to the Party] Any Maldivian Who Failed to Do So Was a Sinner…"

Vice President Dr. Mohamed Waheed, who took over power.

"Maldivian Islamists played an instrumental role in the events of 7 February 2012, which forced the country's first democratically elected president Mohamed Nasheed to 'resign.' Coup deniers and followers of Islamists vehemently object to any such claim. The Islamists themselves, however, have been very public, and very publicly proud, of the 'religious duty' they performed by facilitating the removal from power of Nasheed – in their opinion an anti-Islamic heretic.

"This is clear from the many proclamations and announcements they made in the lead up to and in the aftermath of Nasheed's 'resignation.' Having declared Nasheed a heretic on 7 February, the Adhaalath Party put out a press release on 8 February, the worst day of violence since the transition to democracy. It called on people to stand up against Nasheed, 'with swords and guns' if needs be. Any Maldivian who failed to do so was a sinner, and had no right to live in the country. Fight Nasheed or emigrate; Jihad against him or be eternally damned, it said. The 'truth' of their words was bolstered by selective quotations from Islamic teachings. Accepting Waheed – 'a just ruler' – was portrayed as a religious duty of Maldivian Muslims.

"Replacing Nasheed with Waheed, the haram president with the halal president, appears to be what Adhaalath President Sheikh Imran Abdulla referred to on 31 January as 'Phase Two' of 'the work we have been doing until today.' What was the work Adhaalath and its allies had been doing until then?..."

"Out of necessity, Nasheed had to include the Adhaalath Party in the coalition government he put together in 2008. To put it mildly, the liberal-minded president and the ultra-conservative Adhaalath Party had nothing in common. Despite the frequent clashes over various issues – selling alcohol on inhabited islands, making Islam an optional rather than a compulsory subject in secondary school, introduction of 'religious unity regulations,' provision of land for an Islamic College in Male' – Nasheed had no choice but to stick to his coalition agreement. The turbulent political marriage of convenience came to an end only in September 2011 when Adhaalath voted to sever the coalition agreement citing Nasheed's lack of cooperation in its efforts to 'strengthen' Islam in the Maldives.

"In the intervening period, driven by pragmatic reasons and by an oversimplified belief that freedom of expression is sacrosanct – no matter what the consequences – Nasheed failed to impose any restrictions on the increasingly extremist and hardline rhetoric of the Islamists. With Adhaalath's Dr. Abdul Majid Abdul Bari at the helm of the Islamic Ministry, radical preachers from abroad and from within the country were given free rein, and funds from the public coffer, to address the Maldivian population. The year 2010 saw, for example, the Indian televangelist Dr. Zakir Naik, as well as the Jamaican Dr. Bilal Philips and the British Sheikh Abdur Raheem Green address the Maldivian public. In addition to the foreign preachers, Maldivian missionaries trained at madrassas [Islamic seminaries] in Pakistan and ultra-conservative schools and universities in India, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere bombarded Maldivians with radical rhetoric from every available public platform."

"Antisemitism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance of Other Religions Became a Part of Daily Discourse, Broadcast on National Television"

"Antisemitism, xenophobia, and intolerance of other religions became a part of daily discourse, broadcast on national television, and played incessantly in public spaces from taxis and ferries to loudspeakers on the streets. Close to 90 percent of books stocked in most Maldivian bookshops during this period came to be those authored by the extremists whose words were designed to influence every little detail of a Maldivian's life, from toilet to conjugal relations.

"While extremist literature flourished and their voice took over the public sphere, the liberal voice floundered. When concerned liberals approached Nasheed asking for his help in countering the voices of extremism, his response was – more on less – to tell them 'do it yourselves.' The government, he said, could not impose restrictions on speech.

"Despite the strong civil society that flourished during Nasheed's government, the extremist movement had become too strong by then for individuals – acting without any support from the State – to organize against it. The labels of apostasy, heresy and anti-Islamic agent' had become too powerful as political tools by then for any anti-extremist group or movement to be able to get a foothold in the public sphere. Many individuals attempted to organize into groups, but were shut down as anti-Islamic before they could become a coherent voice in society. Anyone who expressed doubt about their faith in Islam was branded an apostate and ostracized.

"The strength of these prevailing sentiments was seen in the suicide of Ismail Mohamed Didi, a 25-year-old man who hanged himself in July 2010 after being hounded by friends and family for expressing doubt over his belief in Islam. The extremists were determined that the myth of 'Maldives is a hundred percent Muslim nation' will be maintained, even if it meant the oppression and death of those who did not believe….

"The next plum opportunity for the Islamists came on 10 December, the International Human Rights Day, when a handful of young Maldivians staged a minor 'silent protest' against the growing religious intolerance in the country. Despite the fact that Nasheed's government imprisoned one of the protesters, the Maldives' only openly gay activist, religious conservatives were furious with Nasheed for not meting out severe punishment against the protestors. It was deemed as further evidence of Nasheed's heresy."

"Public Displays of Piety, Such As Having Women Shrouded in Black or Men Hiding Behind Waist-Length Beards, Were Never Part of the Maldivian Belief System"

"It is against this backdrop, and armed with these pretexts, that the campaign to depose Nasheed was launched. Its first major public display was on 23 December in the form of a protest under the banner: 'Maldivians Defending Islam.'

"Having been bombarded since November by messages that Nasheed is a threat to their faith, and convinced by the relentless extremist rhetoric of years, thousands of Maldivians spilled onto the streets of Male' in 'defense of Islam.' What a majority of the people had not had the time or space to understand is that the threat to Maldivians' faith has come not from Nasheed but from the extremists…

"For hundreds of years, insulated as the country had been from the rest of the world, Maldivians were largely ignorant of the various conflicts within and around the 'Islamic world'. The Islam that Maldivians practiced was personal – a deeply held faith that did not need mediation by 'scholars' or preachers. Public displays of piety, such as having women shrouded in black or men hiding behind waist-length beards, were never part of the Maldivian belief system. Suppression of women as second-class citizens, violence in the name of religion, disputes over which prayer to be said at what time, insistence on imposing the death sentence, child brides, sex slaves – these were not part of the fabric of 'Maldivian Islam.' The extremists introduced such ideology and practices into the Maldives, and spread it across the country using the very freedoms of democracy they rally against. The success of the extremists had been their ability to use its newfound freedom of expression as a tool for convincing an unsuspecting population that until the arrival of these missionaries, Maldives had been ignorant of the 'right Islam.'

"It was in the defense of this extremism, which Nasheed had failed to act against…."

"One of the First Acts of Violence Carried Out on 8 February was the Destruction of Buddhist Relics … It is Not the First Time That Maldivian Islamists Have Emulated the Taliban"

"One of the first acts of violence carried out on 8 February was the destruction of Buddhist relics from the pre-Islamic history of the Maldives dating back to the eleventh century. It is not the first time that Maldivian Islamists have emulated the Taliban in their actions, and it will not be the last for many are disciples of the same form of Islam practiced by the Taliban and several are alumni of the same madrassas and universities Taliban leaders attended.

"It cannot be denied that a large number of those who celebrated the departure of Nasheed were glad to see him go 'because he violated the constitution.' But those who do genuinely believe in the constitution, and are convinced that following it is the way forward for the country know that deposing a democratically elected president by a coup is hardly constitutional…."

"[T]he only people who remain jubilant at the overthrow of Nasheed are those convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that he was an anti-Islamic heretic. In helping depose him, in celebrating his departure, they have performed a religious duty. Replacing the haram Nasheed with the halal Waheed may not be democratic but it has assured them of a place in heaven. Little do they understand that, in this life, the rewards of their toil will be reaped not by them or their children but by those who have so shamelessly exploited their belief in Allah…"

Article by Indian Journalist Indrani Bagchi

In an article, Indian journalist Indrani Bagchi noted that the ousted President Nasheed had urged India to support his democratic government against the radicalization of Maldivian youth by Pakistan-based terrorist groups. Following are excerpts from Bagchi's article:

"Mohamed Nasheed… Had Gone On Record in a TV Interview to Caution India That Radicalized Maldivian Youths were Being Indoctrinated and Trained by Pakistan-Based Terror Groups; Nine Maldivian Terrorists Had Been Arrested in Pakistan's South Waziristan Agency"

"On May 27, 2009, a suicide attack on the ISI headquarters in Lahore had a relatively unknown bomber, Ali Jaleel, a Maldivian terrorist, who had joined Al-Qaeda some time earlier.

"It sent a chill through the Indian establishment, and India's fears of rising Islamism in the Maldives increased in 2010, when it was revealed that nine Maldivian terrorists had been arrested in Pakistan's South Waziristan agency, where they were training with Al-Qaeda and Taliban elements. Mohamed Nasheed… too, had gone on record in a TV interview to caution India that radicalized Maldivian youths were being indoctrinated and trained by Pakistan-based terror groups…."

"In the chaos of the past week, radicals plundered through Maldives national museum, destroying rare ancient Buddhist statues…"

"The threat of Islamist extremism in India's periphery has been growing, particularly in the past few years and more discernibly since 2008. For India, trying to restore peace and stability in Maldives, the events … [in Maldives] cannot be seen in the perspective of a mere internal political crisis….

"The growth of Islamic radicalism in Maldives can be traced to the beginning of the last decade. Like in Bangladesh, Pakistani jihadi groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba [LeT] have been making inroads to indoctrinate young men in a conservative Sunni society, that has been bogged down with slow growth, political authoritarianism (until 2008, certainly) and mushrooming madrassas [Islamic schools] with Arab funds.

"None of this is good news for India. Intelligence circles believe this is part of Pakistan's strategic outreach, to penetrate Islamic jihadism in India's periphery, which could be a constraining factor on India's own development."

"Most of the Islamic Ideology in Maldives is Ahle-Hadith, Which Is Also the School Followed by [Pakistani Jihadist Organization Lashkar-e-Taiba or] LeT"

"[According to one report] 'the infiltration of Pakistani militants in the Maldives goes back to the post-tsunami period. The Pakistan-based Idara Khidmat-e-Khalq (IKK), a charitable front of the Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) [i.e. charity arm of Lashkar-e-Taiba or LeT], reached the Maldives in the wake of the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami under the guise of providing humanitarian services... According to intelligence sources, the IKK spearheaded LeT's activities in the Maldives, which focused on drawing youths into its fold. The IKK reported spending $282,000 in the Maldives, although the Maldivian government says the organization was never registered as a charitable group….'"

"Most of the Islamic ideology in Maldives is Ahle-Hadith, which is also the school followed by LeT. But Salafist ideologies are now also evident. Nasheed tried to make a deal with them and even had the Adhaalat Party, the Islamist party, as part of his coalition. In his interview…, the new president Mohamed Waheed said, 'Our view is the best way of dealing with Islamist ideology is to engage with them and work with them. That, we believe is the right and democratic way to go about it.'

"Maldives is particularly crucial because its geographical position situates it right in the middle of major sea routes in the Indian Ocean. But equally, a radicalized section of the tiny population of Maldives could make it so much easier for the ISI-Lashkar[-e-Taiba] combine to use them as a staging ground for terror attacks against India."

Endnotes:

[1] http://minivannews.com/politics/translation-president-nasheed%E2%80%99s-devious-plot-to-destroy-the-islamic-faith-of-maldivians-30991 (Maldives), January 20, 2012. The original document can be found here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/58139472/DQP%20Pamphlet.pdf, accessed February 22, 2012. Articles and documents in this dispatch were lightly edited for clarity.

[3] www.timesofindia.com (India), February 13, 2012.