Trouble in paradise: The darker side of the Maldives

11 April 2013

 

Public lashings. Religious extremists seizing power. A gay blogger with his throat slashed. Few of the million annual visitors to the Maldives will recognize the hellish side of these heavenly islands. Following a miraculous recovery the blogger, now lives in exile in Sri Lanka. He misses home, but a country where it is illegal to be non-Muslim and violent forms of religious fundamentalism are on the rise is no place for a homosexual secularist, he says. Recent weeks have put a spotlight on Islamic fundamentalism in the Maldives after a 15-year-old girl who had been repeatedly raped by her stepfather was sentenced to 100 lashes for “fornication”. A petition by the global advocacy group Avaaz has been signed by more than two million people demanding a tourist boycott until the flogging sentence is annulled. President Mohammed Waheed told The Independent that he strongly opposes the court ruling. “This case should not have come to the courts at all. We see this girl as a victim,” he said, adding that he has set up a committee to “understand what went wrong”. The author points out that few of the millions of tourists to the Maldives each year see this side of the country. Most are whisked off to uninhabited resort islands before even setting foot on the crowded, alcohol-free capital of Malé. But the Islamic hardliners are reportedly responsible for further incidents. They are blamed for a raid on the national museum last year in which a priceless collection of ancient Buddhist artefacts was destroyed. They are also thought to be behind the killing in October of a member of parliament who had spoken out against extremism.

Toronto imam charged with assault traveled under aliases

News Agencies – August 24, 2011

A Toronto imam charged with sexual assault travelled under three aliases, the Toronto Police Service has announced. Police allege that Mohammad Masroor, 48, used the name Junaid Salman in Hungary, Austria, Italy and elsewhere in Europe in the early 1990s, may have travelled under the name Abdur Rahim in India, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia in the 1980s, and was also known as Abdul Karim Abdul Aziz.

Mr. Masroor was arrested on Aug. 10 and police announced on Aug. 17 that he faced 13 charges, including sexual assault and threatening death, in connection with alleged offences between Nov. 1, 2008, and July 28, 2011. Mr. Masroor taught at the Baitul Mukarram Islamic Society on Danforth Avenue in Scarborough. Mr. Masroor has worked at mosques in Bangladesh, Singapore, Sri Lanka and several countries in Western Europe. He was most recently in Michigan and Florida.

Immigrants to stage first cricket tournament in Sicily

About 150 immigrants from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh are expected to take part in a cricket tournament in Palermo. Palermo Councillor Giampiero Cannella said “the tournament is part of a municipal initiative in order to foment a real and concrete integration of immigrants that have chosen to live in Sicily, between them and Sicilians.” He continued saying that the tournament is an opportunity for Italians to get to know the game as an introduction to a sport popular to many of the city’s inhabitants, and for the immigrant community to be “able to practice the sport of their country of origin.”

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