Maldives won't allow debates on anti-Islamic issues: Foreign Minister

Ahmed Hamdhoon, Haveeru News Service
Nov 26, 2011 - 04:09 3 comments
  • UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay speaks with Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem during the meeting held at the parliament on November 24, 2011 to give her address to the parliamentarians. HAVEERU PHOTO/ NASRULLA SOLIH

The government will not allow debates to be held in the Maldives on issues that are against the fundamentals of Islam, Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem said today.

The minister's comments come two days after the UN human rights chief called for a public debate in the Maldives on the practice of flogging women found guilty of extra-marital sex.

Minister Naseem told Haveeru that the government would not open a basic Islamic principle such as flogging for public debate in the Maldives despite requests to do so.

"What's there to discuss about flogging? There is nothing to debate about in a matter clearly stated in the religion of Islam. No one can argue with God," he said.

"Our foreign ministry will not allow that to happen."

Naseem stressed that the government will not act against the views expressed by Islamic Minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari on Navi Pillay's comments.

"The government will follow the recommendations given by the Islamic Ministry on religious issues. The government will not stand up against the views expressed by Bari, which is the view of the government [regarding Pillay's remarks]," he said.

"Maldives is a 100 percent Muslim country."

During her four-day visit to the country, Pillay told parliamentarians on Thursday that flogging women convicted of extra-marital sex is one of the most inhumane and degrading forms of violence against women.

"I strongly believe that a public debate is needed in Maldives on this issue of major concern," she said.

Pillay later told reporters that she held discussions with President Mohamed Nasheed, ministers and the judiciary on how to end the practice of flogging in the Maldives.

"At the very least, pending more permanent changes in the law, it should be possible for the government and the judiciary to engineer a practical moratorium on flogging," she proposed.

She also called on Maldivian authorities to remove the "discriminatory" constitutional provision that requires every citizen to be a Muslim.

"I would again urge a debate on that to open up the benefits of the constitution to all and to remove that discriminatory provision," she said.

Meanwhile, the UN human rights chief's comments sparked protests in capital Male with some calling for her arrest.

Protestors surrounded the UN Building yesterday, condemning Pillay's remarks and demanding an apology from the UN and parliamentarians.

Pillay's visit was the first such visit to the Maldives by a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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