The Maldivian government has condemned those that call for violence against others, in the name of defending religion.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said this in a statement released to announce the government’s decision to impose a “temporary cessation” of activities on Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN).
The ministry said that the decision was reached following “widespread public condemnation” of MDN’s 2016 report entitled ‘Preliminary Assessment of Radicalization in the Maldives’. Some of the concerns over the report include content that “contradicts Islamic tenets, and insults the religion and the Prophet.”
While Maldives Police Service (MPS) is investigating the matter as “a high priority” case, MDN has been suspended for the duration of the probe.
Noting that the government “remains fundamentally committed to upholding all the rights enshrined in the Constitution, including those of free expression,” the ministry reminded all that “the exercise of all these rights is subject to refrainment from creating communal discord or blatantly contravening the fundamental tenets of Islam.”
“We are firmly committed to upholding the democratic rights of our citizens including those of expression and peaceful assembly as prescribed in both our laws as well as international treaties to which we are party to including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 19 of which lists freedom of speech and expression as fundamental human Rights.”
~ Foreign Ministry
It added that ICCPR does not allow the rights to be exercised “maliciously, in the form of hate-speech, or in a manner that contributes to public discord and enmity.”
Noting that highest obligation of any government is to maintain public order and communal harmony while ensuring the rights of its citizens, it stressed that Islam “is one of the fundamental sources of [Maldives’] democratic framework as well as source of unity and peace within the community.”
The government also “unequivocally” condemned those who “foment hatred, send out threats and call for violence against others in the name of defending religion.”
“We will not hesitate to use the full force of the law against those who do so. We call upon all parties to exercise their rights in a manner that is respectful of each other and the sentiments of the wider Maldivian community.”
~ Foreign Ministry
While ruling party lawmakers, government ministers and ruling coalition leaders have also condemned the report, the constant cries to ban the human rights’ group has led to death threats against its members and employees.
MDN revealed this in a statement on Wednesday, calling on authorities to take legal action against those responsible for these acts.
“THIS ORGANIZATION DOES NOT ACCEPT OR CONDONE DISRESPECT TO ISLAM”
The organization said that the 2016 was conducted to “assist families of those who were arbitrarily detained and tortured.”
Noting that its findings show the alarming existence of violent extremism in the country, MDN said that those behind these activities “are working to conceal threats and divert the focus of possible investigations, through targeted campaigns to spread disinformation and hatred.”
The group also accepted its “unfortunate” use of language in the report, and added that it is “fully” cooperating with authorities in the investigation.
“We are an NGO that promotes and protects moderate views, peace and unity in the Maldives. This organization does not accept or condone disrespect to Islam”
~ Maldivian Democracy Network