AP NEWS

Maldives bans group over Islamic radicalization report

November 5, 2019

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — The Maldives’ government on Tuesday dissolved an activist group after it found that a report published by the organization on religious radicalization contained content against Islamic laws.

The Maldives’ ministry of community empowerment said in a statement that it informed the Maldives Democracy Network that the group has been deregistered and has 45 days to settle debts and complete other formalities.

The group was suspended last month amid investigations that a report published in 2016 was slanderous to Islam. 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 some preachers.

The government said that there is widespread public condemnation of the report because of “content slandering Islam” and the Prophet Muhammad.

The group’s executive director, Shahinda Ismail, said she believes the investigators have not followed due process.

Ismail had been asked to appear for an inquiry on Wednesday, followed later by three of her colleagues, and the ban comes before any of the authors were interviewed.

“The government has been giving into all the demands religious extremists have been calling for,” Ismail said. “The government is being controlled by these groups and I don’t think banning MDN is going to solve problems.”

The report 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 percent of people interviewed supported the implementation of flogging, stoning to death, the death penalty and amputations as punishments in the Maldives.

The Maldives, known for luxury island resorts, is a Sunni Muslim nation where practicing and preaching other faiths is banned by the constitution.