This was another protest in need of a "Thank You for Proving Our Point" sign. Indeed, just last weekend, a rally against "extremism" in Tunisia was attacked by "Islamist" stone throwers.
Police are investigating a violent attack on a ‘silent protest’ calling for religious tolerance, held at the Artificial Beach to mark Human Rights Day.
Witnesses said a group of men threw rocks at the 15-30 demonstrators, calling out threats and vowing to kill them.
One witness who took photos of the attacked said he was “threatened with death if these pictures were leaked. He said we should never been seen in the streets or we will be sorry.”
Among those injured in the attack was Ismail ‘Khilath’ Rasheed, a controverisal blogger whose website was recently blocked by the Communications Authority of the Maldives (CAM) on the order of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.
Rasheed suffered a head injury and was rushed to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH).
“They started hitting us with bricks. They were aiming at our heads – we could tell they were serious and wanted to kill us,” Rasheed told Minivan News from hospital. “I was taken on a motorcycle to IGMH, but I could see them behind me still hitting my friends.”
Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said police attended the scene after the attackers had departed, and were currently investigating the cause of the violence. No arrests had yet been made, he added.
The protesters, calling themselves ‘Silent Solidarity’, had earlier issued a press release stating that their intention was to “make the Maldives and the international community aware of the rising religious intolerance in the Maldives, and to condemn the Constitutionally endorsed suppression of religious freedom. We also denounce the increasing use being made of Islam as a tool of political power.”
“Silent Solidarity will be protesting against discrimination of all races, gender, sexual preferences and religious beliefs and supporting freedom of thought and expression. In our silence, we speak volumes,” the group’s statement said.
The Maldives has come under increasing international scrutiny following an apparent rise in religious intolerance.
Several monuments gifted to the Maldives by other SAARC countries during the recent summit in Addu have been defaced or stolen on the grounds that they are idolatrous. Islamic Minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari has condemned the monuments while the opposition has hailed the vandals as “national heroes”.
Protests also erupted last month after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay spoke in parliament calling for the government and the judiciary to issue a moratorium and debate on flogging as a punishment for extra-marital sex....