Male: The Maldivian parliament on Thursday voted to endorse the declaration of month-long state of Emergency in the archipelago nation.
The members debated on the declaration for two hours before voting to endorse it, Haveeru online reported.
“Anyone who criticises this step is a traitor to the nation. I call upon the members to work towards ensuring the safety and security of the general public,” Fonadhoo member Abdu Raheem Abdulla, who also serves as the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) deputy leader, said.
Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs, however, said the declaration was evidence of the president’s incompetence. They said the declaration contained unconstitutional points such as the slashing to just seven days the 14-day notice given to the vice president before his impeachment.
Fifty-eight members of the ruling bloc voted in favour of the declaration while 14 voted against it. Three parliamentarians abstained.
Thed Maldives declared a month-long state of Emergency Wednesday in what has been extraordinary security measures following an explosion on a speedboat carrying President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and subsequent discovery of an arms haul.
In the declaration of Emergency, President Yameen said he had reached the decision after consultations with his national security council.
Several explosive devices have been discovered in two separate operations carried out by the army and there is credible intelligence of an imminent attack using explosives and weapons, he added.
The declaration of Emergency comes a day after security forces discovered an explosive device near the presidential palace.
New Delhi, October 4, 2017: In the digital era,one can pick and choose from a variety of mobile apps to connect and bond over with friends and family, and enjoy the festive season.
Mobile apps are a great way to not only engage users, but their easy-to-use interface makes it easier for individuals to organize and manage all work. This demand further rises multifold during festivals when a lot has to be done in very little time.
Is the upcoming festive season giving your jitters? Are you worried about organizing the best party? We have you covered!
The following five mobile apps perfectly fit the bill for mobile apps for festivals and help you organize the most memorable festivities!
1. View and Revise Mythology
Various especially designed mobile apps for festivals are offering advanced viewing of animated mythological epics that will not only keep you engaged but also help you revise and brush up your information and knowledge.
Apps like HOTSTAR are offering Ramayana movie for its viewers. Kids can watch animated stories around Ramayana and Panchatantra, among other texts and learn moral lessons on virtues that will help them throughout life.
2. Learn More About Diwali and Upcoming Festivals
A vast number of people celebrate all major festivals; however they do not know the deeper meanings and significance behind these festivities. Are you wishing to learn more about the upcoming festivals, too?
There are some mobile apps for festivals like YuppTV that offer elaborate catalogs on festivals like Diwali, centered around information on the significance and practices of the festivals and also interesting stories and legends. Individuals can avail these apps to learn more about these festivals on the go!
3. Do Not Compromise on Security
Single girl in the city, or not visiting your family for the upcoming festival season? That shouldn’t stop you from going out and celebrating with fervor.
However, festivals might mean travelling across the city and staying out till late. Your security must not be compromised.
For these security reasons, download apps like SOS, which send an alert to family members in case of an emergency.
4. Get All Odd Jobs Done
Looking for an electrician to put up Diwali lights? Or do you need a beautician to deck you up for your glamorous best? Or did the air conditioner stop functioning at the last moment right before your guests arrive?
For all your last moment and also all pre-planned tasks, you can avail services of apps like UrbanClap, LocalOye, HelpForSure etc for all your nitty-gritty and major developments.
5. Order Food For Everybody
Did more people turn up for your Diwali cards party than expected? Or did uninvited guests drop by? Or are you too tired to cook after all the festive cleaning?
While welcoming people home is not troublesome, problem lies in cooking for a large number of people, especially during times of festivals.
To take care of those moments, you can make use of food delivery apps like Food Panda, or Zomato Online. These apps come with a wide variety of menus, and delivery and packaging choices. Get it delivered during the early hours of the day, or during late night hours.
Today, it will not be wrong to say that there exists a mobile app for almost everything. However, our list will sort all your confusions regarding mobile apps for festivals and their preparations. Have a great festive season ahead!
New Delhi, May 20, 2017: The father of a prominent Maldivian blogger murdered last month wants India’s help to ensure justice for his son.
“I want India to press the (Maldives) government to make my son’s murder case investigation go for a fair trial,” Hussain Rasheed, father of Yameen Rasheed who ran a popular blog called The Daily Panic that poked fun at politicians of his country, told IANS during a visit here.
Yameen, who was known for his fight for democracy and human rights, was found dead in his apartment in Male with multiple stab wounds on April 23.
This was the latest in a series of attacks on media persons and politicians critical of the government of President Abdulla Yameen ever since then President Mohamed Nasheed controversially resigned in February 2012 following a mutiny by a large number of army and police personnel.
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Yameen was also very vocal about the disappearance of fellow blogger and best friend Ahmed Rilwan since August 2014 and was getting threats. He approached the police in December last year but had to really push to get his concerns registered.
He is the third media person to be attacked in the last five years. In 2012 another blogger, Ismail Rasheed, narrowly escaped death after a knife attack.
Also, in October 2012, reformist religious scholar and Member of Parliament Afrasheem Ali was killed.
Painting a grim picture of the prevailing situation in the Indian Ocean archipelago nation which is faced with growing Islamic radicalisation, the senior Rasheed said that the current government of Abdulla Yameen did not enjoy much public support.
“I think if you hold a fair election, the government of Maldives will not get even five per cent of the votes,” he said.
According to him, this was evident from the recent local council elections in which representatives of the ruling dispensation fared poorly.
Noting that India was the Maldives’ closest friend and neighbour and the biggest democracy in the world, he said that an unstable government in his country would not be good for India’s neighbourhood.
“We want India to help us to bring the government back on the path of democracy,” Rasheed said.
On Friday, at a discussion on “Threats to Free Speech and Press Freedom: Murder of Prominent Blogger in the Maldives” organised by the Observer Research Foundation think tank, Rasheed gave an account of the events surrounding his son’s murder.
He said that after being informed by the police about it at his parental home in one of the southernmost islands of the Maldives early April 23 morning, he rushed to Male but the hospital authorities there did not allow him to see his son’s body as he could not have tolerated it.
When the body was finally handed over after being cleaned, Rasheed found that his son sustained 34 cuts on his body, including 14 on the chest, one on the throat and three on the forehead.
Rasheed said that his son had been getting death threats since 2011 but he was not told about it because of his heart condition.
After studying till class 12 in Kerala, Yameen Rasheed graduated in computer science from an institute in Bengaluru and was working at the Maldives Stock Exchange till the time of his death.
Speaking on the occasion, Shauna Aminath, a prominent Maldivian human rights activist, said that since 2012, there has been a severe decline in the democratic environment in her country.
“I fear the situation will soon become irreversible. We are witnessing new elements coming into play, especially Islamic radicalisation,” she said, adding that President Yameen was increasingly becoming authoritarian.
“It is an ideology that is killing liberal values and democracy.”
Aminath said that most opposition political leaders were in jail and there was no press freedom with two newspapers and a TV channel being shut down under the current regime.
She said over 200 young Maldivians have left to fight in Syria.
“We are in India’s backyard. I hope India will not remain silent,” Aminath said.
The Maldivian government has asked India for help in sharing intelligence in light of an increasing threat from ISIS
The rise of the digital age is exposing the Maldivian youth to terrorism and turning them into radicals
Recently passed Anti-Defamation and Freedom of Expression Act criminalizes defamation and fines anyone spreading false information
The Maldivian couple was still struggling with the shock of their 22-year-old son being locked up in a Turkish prison after Muslim radicals almost recruited him.
“On July 12, we woke up and found him gone, his passport missing. Two days later, we got news that he was arrested in Turkey while attempting to travel to Syria to join a radical outfit,” the man’s father told a BenarNews reporter who was visiting the couple’s home in a congested by-lane of Male, the capital of the Maldives, late last month.
“As a family, we are shattered,” he said, “but relieved at the same time. At least we won’t have to live with the shame of knowing our son is killing innocent people in the name of Islam.”
The father, who wished not to be identified, said he was well aware that his son might be looking at a life behind bars if he were sent back to the Maldives. Its government recently announced jail terms of up to 20 years for those attempting to go abroad to fight for Islamic militant groups.
“He will get what he deserves. I only hope he gets a chance to repent,” the man said of his boy, whose identity he also shielded.
His son is one of more than 200 Maldivians who have left the Muslim-majority Indian Ocean archipelago – better known for its pristine beaches and high-end tourist resorts – to fight in the Middle East alongside militant outfits including the Islamic State (IS) and al-Nusra Front, which is affiliated with al-Qaeda, according to the country’s main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and The Soufan Group, a U.S.-based security and intelligence firm that tracks terrorist threats worldwide.
The number of Maldivians fighting for these radical groups abroad is relatively high given the country’s small population of 345,000, according to a 2013 census.
The Maldives has the world’s second highest per capita of people fighting for IS, behind Tunisia, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), an American think-tank. One out of every 500 Maldivians has joined the Mid-East extremist outfit, according to research by the NBER.
At least 20 Maldivians have died in battle in the Middle East, said the Twitter page of Bilad Al Sham Media group, which appears to be run by Maldivian militants in Syria. BenarNews could not independently verify this figure.
And even though the government of President Abdulla Yameen puts the figure at no more than 50, there is cause for concern, said a former top police official in Male.
“Even going by the number the government is stating, it is a worrisome trend considering the small population of the Maldives,” he told BenarNews.
Opposition exaggerating figure: governmentThe government said the opposition was exaggerating the number to bring disrepute to the Maldives, whose population is largely Sunni Muslim.“No bona fide security analyst has said or confirmed the figure which has been repeated by those with close associations to former President Nasheed; who themselves fail to attribute this number to any credible source, much less ones that can be independently corroborated or verified,” Ibrahim Hussain Shihab, Yameen’s international spokesman, told BenarNews.He was referring to Mohamed Nasheed, the country’s democratically elected leader. Until Nasheed was elected in 2008, the Maldives had endured decades of autocratic rule. But he resigned in February 2012, saying a coup had forced him out. Nasheed now lives in exile in Britain, where he has received refugee status.Shihab, however, added that the present government was taking the threat posed by terrorism seriously, but he declined to say how many Maldivian youths had been stopped from leaving the country to join extremist outfits in the Middle East, or if the country had a de-radicalization strategy in place.In February, President Yameen established the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) specifically to investigate cases of radicalization in the Maldives. In June, the president followed that up by submitting a policy paper on “Terrorism and Violent Extremism” to parliament for added recommendations with the aim of strengthening national security and contributing to the global fight against terror, Shihab said.Government in denial
But security analysts described NCTC as a sham.
“It [the NCTC] is a façade to pacify critics,” Azra Naseem, a Maldivian counter-terrorism expert at Ireland’s Dublin City University, told BenarNews. “It is based in the Maldives National Defense Force – making counter-terrorism a military issue rather than a policing issue. And as far as the public has been allowed to know, there are only two members of staff on it.”
She said the government’s main policy was one of “denial and obfuscation,” making it almost impossible for researchers and journalists to get accurate figures because the “government is working actively to cover things up.”
“The government is afraid that if it becomes known that an increasing number of Maldivians are leaving to join the conflicts in Syria and Iraq as foreign fighters, it would harm the country’s exclusive tourism industry. Rich Western Europeans, toward whom most of the Maldives’ tourism industry is geared, would not want to book expensive holidays in a country known for production of jihad,” Naseem said.
“If the tourism industry is damaged, the miniscule percentage of rich Maldivians who control it would suffer and many of them bankroll the Maldives government. So the current regime downplays the number of Maldivian jihadists, pretends it is a problem that does not exist, and labels anyone who speaks about it a traitor,” she added.
On the streets of Male, an island of close to 6 square km (2.3 square miles) that is crammed with 130,000 residents, no one wants to speak of the growing threat of radicalization, not openly at least.Naseem, one of the few Maldivians who agreed to comment on the subject on the record, explained why.“I would not be surprised if the new Anti-Defamation Act is brought to bear on those who speak of this problem,” she said, referring to the recently passed Anti-Defamation and Freedom of Expression Act. It criminalizes defamation and includes provisions to impose fines of up to U.S. $130,000 on anyone caught spreading false information.
“This government really wants to depict the problem of radicalization as a fictitious one concocted by the opposition to harm the country and by ‘jealous’ Western countries who do not want the Maldives to prosper because it is a Muslim country,” she said.
‘We are very vulnerable’
Yet on Thursday, the Maldivian government for the first time publicly conceded its vulnerability to radicalization as it asked India for help in sharing intelligence in light of an increasing threat from IS and reports of radicalization among youths.
The chief of the NCTC will be visiting New Delhi on Aug. 29 to discuss specific requirements to tackle the terror threat, Maldivian Foreign Minister Mohamed Asim told the Press Trust of India.
“Because of our small size, we are very vulnerable and we have sought India’s help in strengthening our mechanisms to tackle threats of terrorism,” Asim said.
The request came barely two months after India’s Intelligence Bureau sent a classified report to agencies indicating that the growing IS influence in the Maldives could prove to be a threat to the Indian sub-continent, whose southwestern coast lies about 320 km (200 miles) away.
The IS has been “successfully using the internet and social media in influencing youths in the island nation and is determined to expand its network further,” the report said, while putting the figure of the outfit’s sympathizers in the Maldives at about 500.
New threat from online recruitment
Acknowledging that the number of potential terror recruits in the Maldives was well beyond the figure the government had been stating, the former senior police official from Male said the problem of radicalization in the archipelago was an old one.
“Radicalization of Maldivian youth came to the fore back in 2004, when several Muslim groups came to the Maldives in the garb of helping people affected by the tsunami and began preaching radical Islam,” the former cop said on condition of anonymity.
“And now, with almost every one of the near 350,000 Maldivians connected to the internet, radicalization of our youth is easier than ever,” he said.
Counter-terrorism expert Naseem agreed.
“There are several websites dedicated to publishing jihadi literature. A lot of books published by leaders of IS and al-Nusra are translated into Dhivehi and made available to Maldivians to download and study.
“Despite the government’s claim that they are clamping down on this, this material is very easily accessible,” she said. (BenarNews)