The media has given us a glimpse of the special operation undertaken by the Maldives Police Service and the Maldives National Defense Forces, during the course of today and this evening. The media personnel were evacuated from Himandhoo before sunset and in addition to the news in the air, there are confirmed reports that an MNDF officer is now being held hostage by those fighting against the security forces.
I wish to put on record, my experiences this evening for the sake of a blog commentary. I would like to refrain from making judgements either for or against the parties involved in the confrontation, in Himandhoo and elsewhere.
Firstly, I happened to be in a coffee shop frequented by, on my way to buy something for a family member, held up by the rain; when the eight o’clock news was read on TVM. One of those at the table, (not an “Islamist”) commented saying that this was all the making of the secuirty forces. He recalled the time when the “bearded ones” were clean shaven with tomato paste. And also the atrocities committed against them by the “golhaas”. When he left, another person at the table commented at his attitude. He condemned it. He said that whatever mistakes that the security forces may have committed this was not a moment for us to echo sentiments of support for those who have taken the mosque to fight against the MPS and the MNDF.
Secondly, as the rain permitted, I walked on and went into an electronics shop where the people were busy listening to the in-depth reporting of the ongoing incident. Most of the people in the shop were expressing their disgust at the security forces and some commented that this was part of the propaganda machinery and the tv should be turned off. One even commented that those in Male’ should go and “confront” the evil forces “here and now”. He seemed to be a young man in his very early twenties. He did not have signs of an “Islamist” in him either.
Third, as I was not successful in the first shop, I moved into a second shop: this time a bookshop! As I looked around I could not help overhearing the conversation between the shopkeeper and a group of young people who were there to buy something. These young people had taken an interest in the newspaper headlines of the papers which were on the shop counter. The shopkeeper was “preaching” that this was something beyond the comprehension of such young people. According to him, the matter was a high conspiracy of Maumoon; and this whole thing was designed to take the focus away from the political issues and the atrocities of the current regime. He pointed out that the only party to gain from the current incidents were the present regime.
As I walked out of the shop and moved on, adrenaline rushed through my head. I could not make sense of what I was hearing? Are we a thinking people? How do we define right and wrong?
Then, as I came home after attending to some work chores I had to finish off, I happened to pass by a bearded young man talking to a group of three young people who were trying to counsel him or to understand him. He was saying that these people were fighting and killing Muslims and if why shouldn’t we confront them and do the same to them when we could. The group of young people could be heard trying to reason otherwise, as I moved on.
Then, as I came to the gate of my house, there were four young guys who were also talking about the talk of the town. One of them was saying that several officers have been injured and that a finger was broken of one of them. They all laughed about the “damage” inflicted on the golhaas. The conversation continued along the same lines as I walked into the house and locked the door.
I could not help wondering: isn’t Himandhoo all around us. Is Himandhoo not the face of the monster within? Are the majority of us not “terrorists” just by the sheer fact that we love such drama and condone it: by the sheer naeivity of being the innocent beings who have dvelled this earth as the proud “Maldivians” for over fifteen centuries? Is this a particularly “Islamist” face of our society or just the lack of tolerance in us for anything that we personally don’t like?
I couldn’t help wondering: who should lead this war on terrorism in the name of Islam in our society? Is the mandate of the Maldives Police Service or the MNDF? Or is it perhaps, the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs? Will anyone take action now, even when it’s too late to awaken the hybernating Supreme Council? They have not even condemned the Sultan Park Explosion to my knowledge. Is it enough to just preach, when the mullah’s don’t have anything else to do.
I couldn’t help wondering: is there a strategic direction to handle this multi-faced “giant within us”? Is there a strategic committee made up of all the stakeholders: the political parties, the business community, the religous groups, security agencies? Is there even a need?
Who are we up against? Aren’t we up against ourselves? Is Himandhoo not within us all?
Isn’t the Maldives a scary place! And is it not what the “extremists” operating in the name of Islam want? Is it not their Day of Victory?
Terrorism: is it Islam or us? Or is it just the only language we know?