But “Islamic Shariah is equal to peace,” they insist, despite the fact that wherever Sharia experiences a resurgence, harassment increases and tolerance decreases. Extrajudicial punishments, vandalism, attempts to silence criticism, and calls for Sharia’s most brutal penalties tend to follow. This situation is also unfolding in the already decidedly non-“moderate” Maldives.
MALE, Maldives (AP) “” Thousands in the Maldives protested Friday, calling on the government to halt what they called “anti-Islamic” activities, including a plan to allow direct flights to Israel. More moderate supporters of the president rallied as well as debate swells over the future of the state’s religion.
The Indian Ocean archipelago of 300,000 Muslims prohibits practicing any other faith.
Remember this when the president claims to stand for “moderate” Islam below. “Moderate” is a uselessly relative term, ultimately only defining someone who is somehow less “extreme” than the next guy.
The protesters want authorities to stop the sale of alcohol in the islands, shut down brothels operating in the guise of massage parlors and demolish monuments gifted by other countries marking a South Asian summit last month because they see them as idols.
More than 3,000 people heeded a protest call by the opposition Adhaalat, or Justice, Party and several other groups that accuse President Mohammed Nasheed’s government of compromising principles of Islam and call for strict Islamic law.
“Islamic Shariah is equal to peace,” read some placards carried by protesters.
Though the country is known more for its exquisite island resorts and does not allow stoning or executions, it is under scrutiny for its absence of religious freedom and for punishments such as public flogging.
Debates on religious issues have emerged since a group vandalized a monument gifted by Pakistan marking a South Asian summit last month with the image of Buddha. Buddhism was part of the present Islamic republic’s history. An angry protest last month followed a call by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay for the Maldives to end the punishment by flogging of women who are found to have had sex outside marriage.
That included a Facebook group calling for her death.
Other residents also rallied Friday in support of the president, who said he stands for a brand of moderate Islam traditionally practiced in the country and that it is vital to preserve the country’s economic lifeline, tourism….