MP challenges Nasheed on India stand

Muslims who are suffering in India deserve our attention, says Ali Hussain

March 03, 2020 10:09 pm | Updated 11:03 pm IST - COLOMBO

Mohamed Nasheed

Mohamed Nasheed

A Maldivian legislator has challenged Speaker and Former President Mohamed Nasheed on his “selective” response to the treatment of Muslims in the neighbourhood.

In a tweet on February 28, Mr. Nasheed said: “I am delighted that Amal Clooney is working with Maldives to fight on behalf of the Rohingya people . As good Muslims, Maldivians have a duty to help our brothers and sisters, and it makes sense to begin with those who are closest to us.

It followed the Maldivian government’s decision to join the Gambia in challenging Myanmar’s treatment of Rohingya people at the International Court of Justice.

Apparently responding to Mr. Nasheed’s tweet, Ali Hussain, an MP from the ruling coalition, said in a tweet the same day: “Also the Muslims who are suffering in India deserve our attention. India is closer to us in many ways so there is no reason why we can’t raise our concerns.”

Asked about his tweet, Mr. Hussain told The Hindu via telephone from Male: “Yes, I strongly believe that we cannot be selective in our pursuit of justice.” “Whether it the revocation of Article 370 [that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir], or the passage of the Citizenship [Amendment] Act, I have closely followed many discussions in academic circles, among lawyers, including many of my classmates,” said Mr. Hussain, an alumnus of the National Law School, Bangalore.

“Reading on the Citizenship Act and listening to arguments made by many, I am able to appreciate the concerns over the infamous amendment that is not just discriminatory, but also arbitrary,” he said. “Moreover, the transfer of a senior judge [Justice Muralidhar] just hours after he questioned the Delhi police on the recent violence raises serious questions about the space for independent judiciary [in India],” he said.

The Maldives is home to nearly 4,00,000 four lakh Sunni Muslims. Male-New Delhi relations, which were tense until the election of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in 2018, have since seen a drastic improvement, marked by high-level visits and greater bilateral cooperation.

Observing that India was a “close friend”, Mr. Hussain said it was therefore Maldives’s duty to urge its friend to be fair to all its citizens.

On the other hand, Mr. Nasheed has maintained that the Kashmir issue or the CAA was India’s “internal matter”, and has refrained from commenting, like much of the Maldivian leadership in government now.

The same day, Mr. Nasheed also tweeted: “Very pleased to be speaking alongside @DrSJaishankar at @indfoundation Ideas Conclave in Gujarat. India’s founding principles of anti-colonialism, equality before the law, and democracy set it in good stead to be a responsible rising superpower.”

Watch |All about the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Asked about Mr. Hussain’s position, Mr. Nasheed, widely hailed as pro-democracy, human rights activist, said “racial disturbances” anywhere were “unfortunate”. The idea upon which India was born was “co-existence”, despite different languages, ethnicities or religions, he said.

“India, as a democracy, with the rule of law, will be able to address the issue,” he told The Hindu over telephone.

“Religious extremism and intolerance is a sad reality of the political landscape in many parts of the world…It’s not just about race or religion, it is about a fellow human being unfairly hurt. It doesn’t help bringing religion into this,” said Mr. Nasheed, who had called upon “good Muslims” in his tweet on the Rohingyas.

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