What sort of reaction will a British news item such as “HM Customs seizes and destroys a Koran” have? Let me guess. Churches in Iraq will be razed to the ground; Christian school girls in Indonesia will be beheaded in front of their mothers who will be forced to eat their entrails; Coptic pig farmers in Egypt will have their entire herds incinerated; luxury hotels in Bombay will be suicide-bombed; Hindus in Bali will be impaled; Baha’is in Iran will have nails driven through their heads. The list will go on and on. The Islamic dictatorships that hog the seats in the United Nations Human Rights Council will be accusing Great Britain and the world of insulting Islam.
And yet a heading in a leading Maldive online newspaper late last week could be paraphrased as “Maldive customs seizes a Buddha used for worship”. The government of these Indian Ocean islands now claims to be the world’s newest “Islamic liberal democracy”. (Does such an oxymoron exist, anyway?) This regime had its border officials seize a Buddha icon, without any respect due to a figure venerated by close to a fifth of mankind. No one raised so much as an eyebrow. What was good for those who protested the Mohamed cartoons and the teddy bear Mohamed is clearly not good for the Maldive customs.
The Maldives regularly confiscates icons, symbols and scriptures that are venerated by major religions of the world, defiles and destroys them. Bibles, in the Divehi language and in English are systematically seized and burnt. A little old Catholic nun who once had the misfortune of travelling through Malé International Airport as a transit passenger had her crucifix savagely ripped off her neck.
A few years ago an Australian of Maldive descent was accused by Maldive police of importing a “Buddha statute used for Christian worship” from Bali, a Hindu island. She was arrested on the spot and taken to a cell with blood stained walls, where she was ordered to sign a confession, admitting her “crime”.
The “democratic” regime that the West has recently helped to install in the Maldives has clearly done nothing to stop this type of outrage. Neither has the average IQ of officials increased, in spite of the presence of hundreds of young, Western educated officials in the new regime, who are now paid huge sinecures through their noses- no pun intended!
The Maldive economy is, to a significant extent, buoyed by the labour and toil of guest workers from India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Europe. They represent close to 25 percent of the Maldive population. Nevertheless they are denied their fundamental human right to worship, even in the privacy of their homes, let alone in their own mandirs, viharas and churches. On the other hand, while studying and living in the West, Sri Lanka and India, Maldivians demand and obtain the right to worship in mosques and eat halal slaughtered meat. No such reciprocity is offered visitors from Asian and Western democracies by the Maldive “democratic” regime that the West appears to be backing.
Legislation being enacted to apply for Maldive membership of the International Labour Organisation appears to be carefully worded to enable the islands to continue to violate fundamental human rights of guest workers. No one in the international community seems to be batting so much as an eyelid in protest.
In the 1930s, the then Maldive strongman Prince Hassan Farid Didi remarked to this writer’s father over dinner: “giving democracy to Maldivians is like giving a handkerchief to a monkey. The monkey won’t know what a handkerchief is for and will soon use it to wipe its bottom”. Nearly seventy years later, this adage still rings true.
Democracy will not work as long as an ideology that is incompatible with democracy is in place
Contiue reading here Máldive Royal Family