Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Non Muslim Maldivian are refugee

Information minister Mohamed Nasheed has admitted on his personal blog that Maldivians who convert away from Islam, or who are children of Maldivians married to non-Muslims, risk losing their citizenship of the country under the constitution in progress.

The issue is believed to have been raised with government by international diplomats visiting Maldives during the development of the constitution.

A prominent lawyer who wished to remain anonymous told Minivan News the clause was “not practical” and would “formally introduce asylum seekers from the Maldives”, doing “more harm than good in the international community”.

He also acknowledged “practical” issues with the clause, saying it would be difficult to implement.

But Nasheed says a last-minute change is unlikely, because “it will be very difficult for Maldives mentality to accept Maldives citizens may belong to a different faith...No Maldives leader would want to rock the boat.”

The anonymous lawyer agreed public pressure was likely to prevent parliamentarians from opposing the clause.

The constitution has still not been finalised, and the attorney general’s office (AGO) has now raised over 200 issues of consistency, wording and practicality, to be addressed by the constitutional drafting committee and Special Majlis (constitutional assembly) before ratification. However the citizenship question does not appear on the list.

And presidential candidates were reluctant to adopt a position on the issue ahead of the country’s first multi-party presidential elections, expected once the constitution comes into force.

Former attorney general Dr Hassan Saeed, now standing as an independent candidate, said the issue was of “very little relevance” as “we do not have a non-Muslim population”.

Mohamed Nasheed (Anni), contesting on the largest opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) ticket, said the MDP “can’t have a position outside the constitution”.

However another candidate, Umar Naseer of the Islamic Democratic Party (IDP), said to local newspaper Miadhu: “In my government there would be no chance [of] any other religion.”

And Sheikh Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari, head of the religious Adhaalath party scholars’ council, told Minivan News in a May 13 interview he personally supported the tightening of citizenship regulation.

Citizenship is dealt with in the existing constitution, in force since 1998, in clause 5, which reads as follows: “Persons mentioned herein below shall be citizens of the Maldives: (a) every person who is a citizen of the Maldives at the commencement of this Constitution; (b) every child born to a citizen of the Maldives; and (c) every foreigner who, in accordance with the law, becomes a citizen of the Maldives.”

But the constitution in progress adds additional subclauses which specify (in unofficial translation) that “citizenship cannot be wrested away from a citizen of the Maldives”, “Any person who wishes to relinquish his citizenship may do so in accordance with law,” and “despite [earlier] provisions...a non-Muslim may not become a citizen of the Maldives.”

Despite the wording specifying citizenship cannot be “wrested away”, lawyers and government interpret the clause as removing citizenship from those who leave Islam or are children of non-Muslims.

“No Maldives politician would want to take the case up,” said Nasheed on his blog. Yet, he contends, “they all would privately agree that citizenship of the country he is born in, or his parents belong to, is...a human right.”

The anonymous lawyer said that because parliament is televised and “they [MPs] want to get re-elected”, a change through parliament was unlikely, but also said it would be “difficult” to reduce the impact of the clause through legislation.


Anonymous said...

dont just write about it. DO something about it!!!

Anonymous said...

@anonymous: Riiiiiiight! What can they except moan?

Anonymous said...

"we do not have a non-Muslim population"

I suddenly dont exist? :S

Anonymous said...

A: Have you thought about why Maldivians in general find it difficult to accept citizens of different faiths?
Nasheed: They're narrow-minded and stupid.
A: Isnt that a rather demeaning opinion?
Nasheed: Its an opinion based on fact. Their actions indicate that Maldivians in general are misinformed or uninformed.
A: Meaning as information minister, you're not doing a very good job?
Nasheed: It takes time to create public awareness about an issue as delicate as religious freedom.
A: It certainly doesnt help when the state media is a champion of one faith. Doesnt that reinforce the public opinion that Maldivians are meant to be Muslims?
Nasheed: It does. Look, its like Fareed said: "Granting democracy to Maldivians is like giving a handkerchief to a monkey. The monkey doesn't know what a handkerchief is used for and soon it will wipe its bottom with it."
A: I see. So we're uncivilized savages you mean? That does explain the behaviour of some MPs. Maybe its best we all acted like apes and resort to violence and throwing shit at each other.

Anonymous said...

might be a bit late to comment but..quite important
This guy is a hypocrit and a moron.
case closed.

Anonymous said...

(2: 27) Those who break Allah's Covenant after it is ratified, and who sunder what Allah Has ordered to be joined, and do mischief on earth: These cause loss (only) to themselves.

Anonymous said...

Christ the son of Mary was no more than an Apostle; many were the Apostles that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food. See how Allah doth makes His Signs clear to them; yet see in what ways they are deluded away from the truth! (5:75 of the holy quran)

Anonymous said...