Maldives | 14 April 2019

Maldives: Allegations of anti-Islamic agenda cause pre-election disunity

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As Maldives Independent reported on 26 March 2019, a presidential commission warned against religiously charged rhetoric in the run up to parliamentary elections on 6 April 2019 as it was feared this could lead to violence. The warning came after the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) was again accused of following an anti-Islamic agenda. Thomas Muller, persecution analyst at World Watch Research, explains: "The leader of the Jumhooree Party (JP), Gasim Ibrahim, stirred up controversy by claiming that the MDP was planning to allow the building of temples and churches in the strictly Muslim country. Whereas these allegations are not new and have frequently been brought up before elections, they are problematic seeing as the JP is part of the four-party-coalition ruling the Maldives at the moment. These accusations came at a particularly unfitting time as the country needs a strong and united government in order to deal with the various challenges the country is facing. One such challenge was highlighted by Jamestown Foundation on 25 March 2019 and concerns the return of Islamic militants from abroad, who are often regarded as heroes in Maldivian society." Thomas Muller continues: "The preliminary results of the voting, however, indicate overwhelming support for the MDP. According to Maldives Independent reporting on 7 April, Prime Minister Solih"s MDP (also former Prime Minister Nasheed"s party) won a colossal two-thirds majority in parliament, with a voter turnout of 80%. Solih was quoted as saying: "˜That our campaign was issue-oriented and not based on hatred and narrow divisions is a win for our young democracy. That our government did not hinder those candidates with whom we did not agree is a big win for the country." It remains to be seen if these results silence religiously charged and divisive rhetoric for good."


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