Category Archives: Nation Building

Violent extremism in the schools of Maldives

Today I came across this amazing piece of writing, which – according to a friend, was circulating in Viber groups. The author is Mr. Ismail Shafeeu, who is said to have worked at all levels of the education sector over the past years and is currently pursuing his education further. (Kindly note below is a crude translation.)

“There are 2160 expatriate teachers who are teaching in the schools of Maldives this year – 2019. In the past years, we have had even more. Moreover, over 85% of doctors and nurses working in the Maldives are foreigners. And 90% of them are not Muslims.

The said expatriates live a peaceful life, with dignity and respect. If the schools in the country had a curriculum promoting religious extremism, would they have been able to live in peace?

As a person who have worked at all levels of the school system, I can confidently say that there is no part in the education provided in the schools that promotes hatred or violence against non-Muslims. The result is that (including myself) the most beloved of teachers of any Maldivian is either a Sri Lankan or and Indian. If schools promoted religious hatred this would not have been the case.

Therefore those who say that the schools in Maldives teach religious extremism are saying so without any basis. Such research is based on heresy, fabricated information, and lies produced by them. These will not be considered in distinguished academic discourse.

The great majority of those who have lost civility and good character are mostly those who have not completed the school system. They had not completed formal schooling up to grade 10 or 12 in a school. It is highly unlikely that a person who have completed and gone through a good education in their school days will have such extremist leniencies. This is sufficient to realize that the school curriculum in Maldives does not promote religious extremism.

Indeed. Allah has set limits in Islam to protect the fundamentals of the humanity, civilization, wealth and religious matters. Those who criticize religion do not want to be bound by those limits. It is evident from what they write. There agenda can only be achieved through the elimination of the Islamic curriculum in schools. Therefore they voice out against the basis of the curriculum which is the Quran the Ways of Prophet Muhammadh Rasool S.A.W. There can be no other reason.”

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Posted by on October 9, 2019 in Nation Building, Neevey Adu Kon Adu, Religion, Society, Uncategorized


Building a culture of tolerance and respect

What can schools, colleges, universities, councils, NGOs and scholars do to instill a culture of tolerance and respect in the next generation of our youth?

I asked on Twitter. And there were some very thoughtful responses, including: (i) teachers need to show tolerance and respect through action and role modeling instead of giving advice on it (ii) empathy and respect needs to be taught – above all (iii) teach the akhlaaq of Prophet Muhammadh Rasool S.A.W. (iv) teach to read, learn and understand (v) build national unity on a common vision (vi) introducing nature play weeks (vii) community gardens and libraries (viii) reading to children, and engaging with them and having a dialogue (ix) teach chidlren the value of walking instead of riding on motorbikes.

These are all fantastic thoughts. I am sure there will be many more creative ideas and thoughts. The implementation needs to be decentralized I believe.

Building communities that are tolerant and peace loving and promote respect, should be decentralized and owned by the communities themselves. It should happen and be led at the island level in atolls and ward level in cities.

The central agency for building tolerance and respect should be the respective council or ward boards. Local players should fall within the jurisdiction of the community leadership, and the national mechanisms should provide resources and technical expertise. Not impose, but facilitate on request.

Tolerance and respect can only be sustained when it is the responsibility of communities rather than to serve the interest of officials elsewhere and detached from the communities.

If we don’t act now, we may be faced with a bleak future sooner than later.

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Posted by on October 8, 2019 in Civil Society, My Argument, Nation Building, Society


The Joy of being a Teacher

Just now as I was on my way to the bank, a young man smiled and said “assalaamu alaikum” and shook hands with me. I looked at him for a while and told him, “adhi kon beyfulhehkan neyguney!”.

He told me who he was. That he was a “tiny fellow” in school when I was the head teacher at Lhaviyani Atoll Education Centre. When he told me his name and family, I remembered. He had changed so much! It has been almost 20 years now!

Ibrahim said that he was now working in a resort, his second in 15 years. He had a child who was now in grade 3, and he was in Male’ to go to Hinnavaru for a visit to his family.

We stayed and talked for a while. It was a really pleasant experience. One that I am used to, because I have been a teacher. Every time, it gives a feeling of contentment and makes me feel good for having being a teacher. And it is so fulfilling every time.

Young people who show you that they remember you as their teacher, and look up to you for what you have been, is so rewarding that it brings such joy that can never be gotten from anything else. The joy of being a teacher! What an awesome feeling.

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Posted by on September 1, 2012 in Nation Building, Random Thoughts


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First Democractically Elected Parliament: Mandate?

Today we are proud to say that we have a new constitution; one that gives the people of the Maldives the right to a dignified life in our beloved nation. The August Constitution has been a product of the collective desire of the Maldivian People for reform and justice.

We have the first democratically elected President, today. We are proud to have “30 years” of a prolonged regime behind us; a thing of the past! We have mandated a dynamic, vibrant and young President to lead us to the Other Maldives – one in which each of us will have a decent life.

Now the country is on the verge of the next best thing that will happen to our beloved nation in its new found haven of democracy. We will elect Members of Parliament to the first democractically elected 76 member strong Majlis in the parliamentary elections to be held on 9th of May.

The Question that I have is: What will be the mandate of the first parliament of the August Constitution? I have my thoughts, but maybe later!


Prison Break: Who will resign?

I was watching the two o’clock news on TV Maldives on Friday, and was shocked to hear that, the Minister of State for Home Affairs Ahmed Shafeeg has said that “about four prisoners” who fled Maafushi prison last night have been apprehended by the authorities in a nearby island. Haveeru has reported that the prisoners escaped by the threatening the prison guards with the assistance of a gang who had come from Male’ armed with iron bars.

I wondered to myself who would be asked to take the blame for the loophole in state security and the terror that ordinary law-abiding citizens have been subjected to. A week or so ago, The Minister responsible for Maldives National Defense and also Home Affairs, and the Police Commissioner seemed to put the responsibility for the mayhem in our streets on the Prosecutor General’s inefficiency and ineffectiveness.

The question on my mind is “Who will resign?”

We have seen numerous demonstrations on the streets of Male’ calling for resignations of government officials in the recent years. Former Minister of Home Affairs Gasim Ibrahim resigned after demonstrations calling for his resignation and pressure from political and civil society pressure groups.

When are we going to see government agencies made accountable for things they are charged with? Or will this prison break also be blamed on former regime sympathisers in the civil service?

The previous government had put the responsibility for all evil in society on the people. They would say that no one had reported the evils to them. And the Home Minister of the regime believed that gang related street murders can only be stopped by the gangs and they wanted it.

I just can’t help wondering who will be asked to resign.


Foreseen: The Demise of the Maldives Tourism Industry

Today I sat at a table in a coffee shop with a man who was delighted with the success of their strike to “make things right” on a tourist resort in Maldives. Hce was delighted that they had won. He was delighted that the “culprit” lost and could not do a thing because of rights enshrined in the August Constitution of the Maldives and the new Labor Law.

After he left, I wondered to myself – what have we become? I have always believed that Allah has created enough of everything in such abundance that the wealth and the welfare of another cannot take away what is rightfully mine. That the other need not lose for me to win. Yet, there is so many amongst us who seem to believe that our happiness can only come from someone else’s misery, that our success can only be if others are to lose.

What is going on in the tourism industry today is to me a sign of this mentality that seem to have gripped our nation – which have been hailed as Paradise on Earth. The chaos and the fight to annihilate the other has come about for compelling reasons that would be spelled out in detail by each party to impress their case.

It was in July 2008 that the Maldives Association of the Tourism Industry (MATI) warned of a looming tourism decline.

The first high profile strike organized by TEAM was settled after intervention by the President’s Office. Since then we have seen strikes that have rocked the industry which is in a very fragile state. Maryam Omidi’s report on Minivan News says, there has been about ten strikes in the recent months according to Tourism Employee’s Association President Ahmed Easa. Some blame the Labor Law while others blame the attitude and treatment of local employees by their five-star rich employers.

Since then, the President has flown to Italy to woo tourists, and the Economic Development Minister has made an offical visit to Italy “create a suitable environment for investment.” He had “expessed surprise” [that] “discussions to seek investment had not occured in the past.” The Tourism Minister has just left for the Moscow International Tourism and Travel Fair (MITT) 2009. The government is “going all out” to attract tourists and to woo investors.

There seems to be an absence of a commitment or a will by the government, MATI or TEAM to put things right – to work out a timeline for creating the conditions required to enable the Labor Law through short-term, medium-term and long-term strategies that would sustain the “bread-basket” of the nation. When are we going to act as a nation – not as individuals looking for fame, not as lobbyists for self-interest groups, not as political parties; who wish to “win” by the “sheer loss” of those who are against them; so that we may survive the world economic crisis?

This arrogance and attitude of mind (for “them” to lose so that we can “win” in absolute terms)can only scare the employers (of local employees) and create a lack of investor confidence in Maldives investment climate. How on earth would tourists come to holiday in a “dead” paradise that is socially irresponsible as a corporate citizen, recklessness in its psyche, and can boast only of mayhem on its streets? How hospitable can we be?

President Nasheed (Anni) embarked on his Presidency on a promising note, with a commitment to fulfill his party’s election promises. His biggest challenge seems to be to provide sound economic, political and fiscal conditions that would enable the realization of those dreams and his party manifesto on which he believes he was elected to Office.

How important is it for “us” to win and them to “lose”? Are we prepared to sacrifice this nation for us to win!


Posted by on March 20, 2009 in Leadership, My Concerns, Nation Building


How the Serbian Canvas Group succeeded in toppling the Maldivian Dictator: by Omidi from Minivan News

Omidi writes:

In October 2008, the Maldives held its first multi-party elections, toppling 30-year incumbent Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and replacing him with Mohamed Nasheed, a former political prisoner and according to Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) opposition members, rabble-rouser extraordinaire.

Indeed, this is how members of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and others connected to the party were and still are viewed: as a mob of uneducated activists who took to the streets in undignified protest. But what few people know is that behind the clamour of MDP as well as those who joined their fight was a well-designed plan.

And behind the plan, there was Canvas – an organisation of trainers and consultants that travel the globe to transfer their skills, knowledge and principles of non-violent struggle. The ideas exported by Canvas were born out of Otpor, a youth movement in Serbia, which has been credited with the bloodless revolution that brought down Slobodan Milosovic.

“Maldives was fourth in line of our successes,” says Srdja Popovic, the executive director of Canvas. “Others include the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the Rose Revolution in Georgia.” In the latter, students offered soldiers roses when the army was deployed by Eduard Shevardnadze, who had ruled Georgia for more than 30 years.

Read the full article here

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Posted by on March 12, 2009 in Democracy nd Reform, Nation Building


Doing Business in Maldives…

The other day I was having a conversation about doing business in the region with a foreign investor over a glass of fresho orange juice. He is a Muslim.

During our conversation I asked him what the biggest difficulty was that he faced in doing business in Maldives. He said almost spontaneously without a second thought that it was “gossiping”. He went onto explain that it was known as “gheeba” in their country. I did not tell him that we have the same word in our vocabulary too. I asked him what he meant.

He then went onto explain, that it was talking about other people in their absence. I told him that I quite agreed, and that this was wrong also because it did create unfounded stories and rumors about people which were not true. He told me that it was not only talking bad about other people. That “gheeba” was talking about others what they wouldn’t want even when what is said maybe true. He claimed that proper human rights would be to completely refrain from talking about other people without their permission even if what is said maybe true. To him, that was the true Muslim spirit.

I am sure this investor must have had quite an experience to say it so spontaneously and in such a pin pointed manner. I was not surprised!

Let’s see how our People’s House (the so called Majlis) can be made “gheeba” free, in the first place. A place which upheld the true Islamic Faith that they so passionately made to be the pillar and guiding principle of the August Constitution. Perhaps, the ordinay folk will follow the leaders of the nation, and make this country worthy of investment by businesses without hesitation then.

I give my vote for an “gheeba” free Maldives. How about you?


Posted by on January 16, 2009 in Nation Building, Values


TEAM vs. Tourism Workers Union

Maldives tourism industry has been rocked by the recent protests demanding compliance to the new Labor Law which was enacted just prior to the country’s new constitution and the October Presidential Elections. The leading representative body of the tourism industry employees in the forefront fighting for tourism sector employees has been TEAM – the Tourism Employees Association of Maldives.

Team was the key lobby behind the action that forced the then government to propose an amendement to the Tourism Act days after it was enacted into law. The amendment included the tourism industry workers in basic rights such as the forty-eight-hour working week of maximum six working days.

TEAM has been voicing their concerns over alleged non-compliance by hotel-resort managements since the amendment. A strike by workers on the luxury resort of One and Only Reethi Rah and the subsequent engagement of riot police with the protesters on the request of the management got the President involved in the issue.

Now, all of a sudden and out of the blues, Haveeru Daily Online has reported that the Tourism Workers Union represented by its two lawyers has said in a press briefing today, that the timing of the strikes by tourism sector employees for rights is not happening at the right time. The lawyers said that the first step should be to create an environment to resolve disputes through negotiations. The lawyers also reportedly said that the best way for the workers is to leave the resorts and give the employers a lesson.

TEAM President Ahmed Easa is reported to have said, “Problems from other resorts such as Cinnamon and Manafaru have been solved through protests. There’s no doubt about it that going on strike is the best way to solve this problem.” (Minivan News)

Haveeru did not say who is behind the Tourism Workers Union, though the article creates a sense of curiosity as to its motive in coming into the seen right now the way it did! The article does not say that these lawyers were employees of the industry or represented persons who wanted to act behind the scenes.

Minivan News article
Haveeru article in Dhivehi


What next for Gayoom… (contd.)

The first person said that he would go to any extent to find him anywhere he came out into the public and to shout and remind him of the atrocities he has committed against the people of the Maldives. He said that even if President Anni has pardoned Gayoom, those who have suffered immensely under the dictatorial regime of Maumoon for 30 years cannot do the same. For him, it was important that Maumoon taste the hurt and pain of the people who suffered under his regime.

The second person said that Maumoon should leave the country and let the people taste paradise and its wonders without him. He said that the sight of Maumoon cannot be pleasing to any Maldivian today.

The third person was of the opinion that Maumoon is a statesman who has earned the respect of the international community. He said that Maumoon should build on this and contribute to national development though a foundation for the alleviation of poverty and national development. According to him, Maumoon Foundation could source international funding and assistance to develop designated areas and people issues.

I could not help wondering how different we could be in our outlook and attitude to the future. We want the same thing, yet in so different ways!

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