Legal Politics Society & Culture

Probe demanded into defamation, threats against NGO chief

Authorities must investigate the “defamatory acts and incitement to violence” against a human rights defender who tweeted about Islam.

Shahindha Ismail has become the focus of criticism, threats and even a police probe for saying that Allah allowed for other faiths  after President Abdulla Yameen said he would only permit Islam to be practiced in the Maldives.

A pro-government website singled out her tweet in an article, which sparked outrage among extremists and state-licensed clerics.

On Friday night the Maldivian Democracy Network, where Ismail is executive director, condemned the verbal onslaught.

“I believe the matter of my tweet has escalated due to targeted and false news articles,” the MDN statement cited Ismail as saying. “I also believe it aims to encourage violence against me.”

The MDN urged police, the Maldives Media Council and a national human rights organisation to probe the threats against her.

Mohamed Siruhan, a campaigner for strict Sharia law with more than 43,000 Facebook followers, said Ismail was an apostate who was calling for secularism in the Maldives.

“While doing jihad should we behead people with love?” he asked in a post on Friday.

There was a trend of attacking people who criticised the government, said the MDN, referring to Yameen Rasheed and Ahmed Rilwan who were prominent liberal voices against radicalisation.

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