Shifaz raises concerns over Councils statement against amendment to criminalize hate crimes

Minister at the President’s Office And Vice President of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Mohamed Shifaz (Shippe) seen with Speaker of Parliament, Mohamed Nasheed | Photo: MDP

Malé, Maldives – Vice President of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Minister of President’s Office, Mohamed Shifaz has expressed concerns over the statements being released by local councils against the proposed amendments to the Penal Code of Maldives to criminalize hate crimes.

This comes while over 80 Councils of Maldives have so far released statements against this amendment, 101 Islamic Scholars have signed and send a petition to President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih asking to dismiss the bill.

Speaking at the press conference held last night by the National Council of MDP, Shifaz stated the bill presented by the government with a plan to close opportunities for extremists has been labeled as a “secular” bill by Islamic scholars and that they have begun a campaign targeting MDP.

I urge all constituency presidents in this National Council to keep a keen eye on the councils in your constituency to make sure that the statement from Salaf [religious NGO] does not get released.

Vice President of MDP, Mohamed Shifaz

Instead of releasing statements against amendment to criminalize hate crimes, Shifaz called out to the constituency presidents to work harder on releasing statements calling for justice from the terror attack President of MDP and Speaker of Parliament, Mohamed Nasheed had to face on May 06, 2021.

Shifaz also called out to halt or stop the islands without MDP councils from releasing statements against the amendment to criminalize hate crimes or to do something against releasing those statements.

Noting that words are easily twisted and the story is changed to another direction in situations like this, Shifaz said that it is concerning that some MDP members also take part in such things and stated to not give opportunities for such incidents.

The proposed offences in the bill that are being highly criticized by the public and several Islamic scholars are the offence of pointing out that a person is living against the rules of Islamic religion or is against the religion in a public place and the offence of creating hatred towards a person in the society by relating it to the Islamic faith. 

Along with this, the bill also states that it is an offence to describe or be a part of describing a Muslim of being a non-muslim in a public place or accuse a Muslim of being a non-muslim in a public place. 

Male’ city council had also expressed their disagreement with the amendment and stated that it opens opportunities for people to mock Islam. Male’ city council conveyed concerns of the people over the amendment to stop hatred saying that the government is allowing people to mock Islamic religion and the Prophet with the power of the law. 

Adhaalath Party had also stated that these offences mentioned in the bill do not adhere to the international conditions required in deciding the offences that would lead to hatred. 

The party noted that the offences imply that one of the rightful duties of Muslims, to call on to do right things and to stop individuals from doing wrong things would be considered a criminal offence in the Maldives. 

The party expressed concerns that the bill may further increase hatred amongst people and called on the government to follow the methods of international committees on creating the bill as a precaution.