Islam Upheld With Fervor in the Maldives

March 20, 2015 by Open Doors in Middle East

After the ousting of the first democratically elected president Mohamed Nasheed in February 2012, an interim president took over. It soon became clear that these political moves had a strong religious undernote. The justification for ousting Nasheed had been the claim among conservative Muslims that his government was trying to undermine their faith. They, however, failed to substantiate their accusations: one of which was that the government had been intent on ‘wiping away Islam’ in order to introduce religious freedom and the practice of other religions in the country. Nasheed`s successor Mohamed Waheed Hassan, reiterated that his government aims to respect the values of Islam and uphold the rule of law as was envisioned in the country’s 2008 constitution.

In an address to the nation in April 2012, President Hassan said development and civilization in the country should be formed by Islamic values and customs. He said all leaders of the country must strive to preserve the Islamic faith in the people, for “Islam is the most civilized religion”. In September 2013, new elections were held. The ousted Mohamed Nasheed was one of the contenders. The elections were widely dominated by accusations that Nasheed would betray Islam. Nevertheless, Nasheed won with more than 45 percent of the votes, but immediately faced the protests of the defeated candidates. They contested the election results, leaving the country in a legal limbo. On November 16th, 2013, Abdullah Yameen won the presidential runoff. The Islamic candidate and half-brother of longtime ruler Gayoom won by a narrow margin of around 6,000 votes or 1.61 percent, illustrating the country’s apparent split.

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