Maldives group wants ban over radicalization report reversed

November 6, 2019 GMT

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — A banned activist group asked the Maldives government on Wednesday to reverse its decision and reinvestigate allegations that it published content against Islam in a report on religious radicalization.

Maldives Democracy Network in a Twitter message said the government has deregistered it without due process and without saying under which law the group was banned.

It said the government of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih that came to power promising protection of fundamental rights “has placed itself as the record-breaking first government out of the last five governments to ever shut down a civil society organization in the Maldives.”

“We call on the government of Maldives to reverse the decision to cancel registration, afford us due process, conduct fair investigations and if deemed so, take proportionate action so that we may be able to assist victims of torture and injustice as we have for the past 15 years.”

The Ministry of Community Empowerment said on Tuesday it informed the group that it had been dissolved after an investigation found that parts of the group’s 2016 report had contents against Islamic law.

None of the authors of the report had been were interviewed before the ban.

The group was suspended last month amid investigations that its report was slanderous to Islam. The government said that there is widespread public condemnation of the report because of “content slandering Islam” and the Prophet Muhammad.

Though the report had been on the group’s website for more than three years, the government opened a case only last month, heeding to a demand by several preachers.

MDN’s executive director Shahinda Ismail has said the government has given in to the demands of religious extremists.

The report in question examined school textbooks for each grade on how Islam is taught and how some Friday sermons allegedly incited hate and intolerance. It also said more than 90% of people interviewed supported the implementation of flogging, stoning to death, the death penalty and amputations as Sharia law punishments in the Maldives.

The Maldives, known for its luxury tourist resorts, is a Sunni Muslim country where practicing and propagating other faiths is banned by the constitution.