Gangsters rulez!

Less than 24 hours after the infamous gang leader (Chica) was released there were 2 incidents of violent crime directed against news paper workers just for covering the story. Now one wonders what is happening to this country? Are we in Mexico fighting the drug war? Despite our military spending which tops even the oil rich Kuwait and Nato member Turkey as a %age of GDP, why are our armed forces not capable of controlling this thuggery in the less than 2 square kilo meter island?

To answer these questions lets analyze the context.
The problem in Mexico is about money. Mexico is bordering USA which has a big affluent market for drugs which means money in billions. But here in Maldives that context is not there. Our ‘little drug barons’ are not dealing in billions. Compared to Mexican drug dealers the likes of Chika are pimps. But the problem is why they are so powerful. Why were some of them alleged to have been protected in the past? In the case of Chicka it was alleged he was the henchman of the then “brigadier general” (a comical title..) Adam Zahir. After the transfer of power from Maumoon to Anni that protection may not be there but still they are able to intimidate witnesses, take advantage of amendments to law which were made possible only after the transition to democracy, claim the right to remain silent and have the courts re-examine the whole investigation process to manipulate the charges etc..

In our Majlis debates frequent references are made to USA as a standard bearer of many things like process, protocols etc. But those who remark on those issues fails to acknowledge that USA has a very effective history of asserting their national interests over any other principle be it the judicial process, international relations or whatever. If the USA finds a person a threat to their ‘national interest’ anywhere in the world, they will not hesitate to snatch or kidnap, detain or even assassinate that person. That is all justified under their national interest. Coming back to Maldives such realization of threat to national interest does not seem to be evident. We have had our courts throw out cases against money launderers simply because a clause in the constitution did not explicitly spell out the word ‘counterfeit money”. We have also witnessed recently how a well known ‘drug dealer’ was let free after the court failed to find fault for lack of adequate evidences despite there being lots of questions on the case. The court in effect dismissed a high profile drug dealer on a technicality. If we are to do things the American way these drug dealers might not ever be sent to court if they knew courts will release them. They might even create a special court to convict such people. However the most effective way to deal with the drug dealers is the Chinese way.

The potential for violence lies in gangsterism as well as religious extremism. In the current situation in our country, we seems to have overlooked the first one which is proliferation of gangs and gang warfare. Many deaths were claimed (closer to 50) to the gang violence in the last 3 years and each time the public simply has to absorb the shock and grief of the event. Those in authority who are charged with keeping law and order simply are not doing their job and giving themselves medals and honors and fancy titles. The situation is so bad that many areas in Male’ are simply no-go areas during the night and when the gangsters are visible on the street corner. Many homes are simply virtual prisons for their inhabitants and the occupants of the house only venturing out after calling a taxi or maybe a group of friends.

The religious extremism issue is simply a trumped up issue by the authorities to divert the attention of their own culpability. The only real violence which can ever be attributed to religious intolerance in Maldives was the home made explosive device some dejected youths detonated in our “Sultan Park” injuring a few tourists. The incident happened because of the then government’s intransigence on a local issue which is the Himandhoo mosque issue. The locals only wanted not to worship in a government designated mosque, which the locals knew was constructed on a graveyard but the government sent the “military forces” for successive 3 years (Each time in the holy fasting month) to force the worshipers out from a modest small mosque they have constructed. In the last ensuing battle with the locals and the forces our country was injured big time when foreign media took up the issue and tarnished our country’s beautiful image as a peaceful country.

Waves of intolerance sweeping across Europe

It started with head-scarves and like swine-flu, its spreading. Yesterday the Swiss voted to ban minarets and nobody knows what will be targeted next. This is abrupt unexplainable departure from liberal views of Europe and western countries for centuries and some are rightly questioning weather is this not going to be history which is repeating again. Europe was awash with intolerance and hatred in the middle ages and its correct that more blood was shed among Christians in differing sects than the later religious wars. Maybe Europe and western countries in general are becoming victims of their own success.

Here in Maldives we shall be concerned about these issues simply because of our dependence on tourism which is actually more likely to be affected by mood swings of Europe in the short term than global warming or antarctic ice meltdown which is more hype than reality. The way to address the issue is through activism and engaging racism at each and every avenue and not lying down hoping the storm will pass over our heads. The issue is about human forgetfulness and its a failing that can be addressed by reminding. Those who argue against Islamic symbols shall be reminded that they claim to be champions of democracy and personal freedom. Europe became what it is by being free and fair and respectful of other cultures or at-least being seen to be so. However these values are slowly being slowly eroded by newer evils and the pace is getting quicker. Not only is Islam under the knife. Every belief system and values system is being slowly tested and its true that Muslim values are taking the brunt of the attack.

Coming back to the the minaret issue, those who argued in favour of the ban said the minaret looks like missiles and they are against the symbolism of the minarets. It should have been more helpful if they targeted real missiles which their country exports to other countries rather than harmless useless structures adjacent to places of prayer and worship.

Our protest at the massacre in Gaza

A rocket designer?
A rocket designer?

This is our protest at the on going massacre in Gaza where up to now more than 850 civilians are now known to have died. This is despite the world fully watching and aware of the problem and the great powers of the world fully supporting the aggressor. And even if a full blown massacre is not enough, the US congress felt the urgency to adopt a resolution “recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks from Gaza” as if they have not used this so called right.
The reason for this on going massacre has very little to do with religion and much to do with land. Hamas is blamed for throwing rockets which is supposed to have started this war which is actually a form of protest if the numbers are weighed. Hamas is elected by popular vote and the only problem with Hamas is that they do not recognize the state of Israel. They have very good reason for that as Israel is the only country in the world which doesn’t have defined boarders to call their own. Israel has never defined their boarders and never accepted boarders assigned by UN after the Arab Israeli war of 1967. So Hamas is in a difficult position to accept a “country” which was created by force on Palestine which doesn’t have boarders.

As the war on Gaza continues there are reports of war crimes being committed by IDF which is nothing new and has never come to anything in the past because of the stubbornness of the USA in defending Israel no matter what. UN has called for an investigation into why more than 100, mostly women and children were corralled into a house by IDF and just 24 hours later that house was shelled repeatedly by IDF which left more than 30 people dead mostly children and women.

Our prayers are with the brave people of Gaza who have suffered so much under the watch of the world powers who are so blind to the atrocities of Israel, who quickly labels every fallen Gazan a rocket maker or a bomb thrower.

Here is a link showing the martyred baby on the fliers calling for demonstration in Male’ day before yesterday. His name is Iman Hijo.