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Monday, June 24, 2024

Why is the President of Maldives Dr Mohammed Muizzu turning a blind-eye to Jamiyyath Salaf?

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Islamic radicalism is a brutal and often not spoken truth about in Maldives.

The Islamic radical ideologies of Salafism and Wahhabism have not just penetrated the minds of the youth of the Maldives. According to official law enforcement figures, 250 people traveled to Syria to fight and 432 more attempted but terrorism watchers revealed that the law enforcement figures are dumbed down. Reportedly, the general belief in the intelligence circles is that 1 in 2000 Maldivian fought for ISIS in Syria and Afghanistan.

At the forefront of Islamic radicalization in the Maldives is Jamiyyath Salaf. The organization poses as a people-centric NGO working to preach and propagate the tenets of the Islamic faith. But that is just a facade to cover its real face – which is that of Islamic radicalization.

In 2019, JS was being investigated by the government of Maldives on allegations of supporting and encouraging terrorism in the country. Presidential Commission Investigating Murders and Enforced Disappearances’s report on MP and religious scholar Dr. Afrasheem’s murder revealed that an extremist religious organization (referring to JS) was behind the murder of the former MP. A closed-door meeting was held by the 241 Committee to discuss taking action against the Jamiyyath Salaf.  The then Speaker Mohamed Nasheed stated that he had received information that the sub-committee formed by the 241 committee had decided that Jamiyyath Salaf is a religious group that encourages and supports terrorism and that the committee is preparing to take action against the organization.

Jamiyyath Salaf had stated then, that the Presidential Commission Investigating Enforced Murders and Disappearances mentioned the name of the organization in their report on the murder of former MP and religious scholar, Dr. Afrasheem Ali, in a bid to tarnish the good name of the organization.

In 2019, the Maldivian Parliament passed to take immediate action against Dr. Mohamed Shaheem and Jamiyyath Salaf and any affiliated people to the murder of Dr. Afrasheem Ali. The Parliament passed this after a vote taken on the report compiled by the Security Services Committee (241 Committee) following its review of the Disappearances and Deaths Commission (DDCOm)’s report of Dr. Afrasheem’s murder. The report by 241 committee included recommendations against several local groups including Jamiyyath Salaf. The report was passed with the vote of 47 lawmakers out of 59 who were present. 10 had voted against passing the report. The committee report classified Jamiyyath Salaf as the organization that headed all extremist actions related to the murder of Dr. Afrasheem. Local extremist groups flagged in the report include; local Al-Qaeda branch, local groups affiliated with Islamic State (IS), Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda in Syria or al-Qaeda in the Levant), and extremist groups that operate near Masjid al-Furqan.

Jamiyyath Salaf (JS) has been in support of Jihadism in the Syrian Civil War since it began in 2011. It has been reportedly inciting the Maldivian Youth ideologically, financially, and physically into the Jihadism of the Syrian Civil War.

Through its website Raajjeislam, JS operatives, since 2009, began introducing Islamic radical doctrine and emotional rhetoric of Islamic radicalism into Maldivian society. In 2011, they started to share disturbing graphic videos and pictures of wounded Muslims in Syria which created an urge within the Maldivian youth to defend the honor of the oppressed Muslims. Then speeches of radical Islamic clerics were translated to further instigate and brainwash the Muslim youth in Maldives. On March 26, 2012, JS President, Abdullah Bin Janab took to a social media platform and shared the following message: Muslims will revenge for the recompense of the oppressed women and children and the injured Muslims due to the oppression of disbelievers in Syria. Further on May 22, 2012, JS President, Abdullah Bin Janab stated on a social media post: The bearing of oppression by Syrian Muslims is a radiant of Islamic Jihad. Oppressive tyrants could be ceased upon Jihad.

On May 30, 2012, JS leader Adam Shameen openly encouraged Muslim youths to go to Syria to wage Jihad. He stated on social media: Praying for Syrian Muslims is not the only thing you can do. There are Muslims doing other things too. Jihad is also being done in Syria. If you are able you also go – don’t wait. Different people have different excuses and Allah almighty shall judge according to each person’s situation. On May 24, 2014, Adam Shameen stated on social media: May Allah accept the martyrdom of all the Muslims and the Maldivian brothers who died at the hands of the enemies in Shaam (a region in Syria) and elsewhere. May the victory be given to Jihadists.

Details in GoaChronicle possession show that in September 2014, Jamiyyath Salaf stood in defense of ISIS against the coalition made by the USA with Arab Muslims States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. On September 20, 2014, JS leader, Ali Rameez Qaasim stated on a social media platform: What ‘Jihad’ is going to be done by Arab States joining those people whose hands are filled with the blood of Muslims? 

Jamiyyath Salaf members even come out in support of the Charlie Hebdo Terror Attack in France. JS President Abdullah Bin Janab on January 8, 2015, stated: If the attack done to the news which mocked Prophet Mohammad we are assured to be Muslims, it is evident that the conscience of the Muslims is not yet dead. Furthermore, on January 9, 2015, JS President, Abdullah Bin Janab, stated: In reaching the aims, we can get encouragement from the act of planning the attackers of the news which mocked the Prophet Mohammad.

During the election campaign in Maldives last year, former President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s campaign team leveled various allegations against the current President of Maldives, Dr. Mohamed Muizzu, labeling him a “PNC-Salaf candidate”. Dr Muizzu, however, denied these allegations stating that he does not have any connections and is not engaged in any negotiations or deals with the religious conservative organisation Jamiyyath Salaf.

In its allegations against Dr Muizzu having links with Jamiyyath Salaf, it stated that Dr. Muizzu from 2008 to 2010, Muizz was in the Jumhooree Party (JP), and from 2010 to 2012, he was a member of the Adhaalath Party. It is interesting to note that both JP and Adhaalath Party share a cordial relationship with Jamiyyath Salaf. On September 10, 2014, known Jihadist Arifi was invited to the Maldives by the Adhaalath Party’s Mohammed Shameem Ali Saeed backed by Jamiyyath Salaf. On September 22, 2014, another known Jihadist Nasir Umar was invited to the Maldives by Adhaalath Party’s Mohammed Shameem Ali Saeed by Jamiyyath Salaf.

It is also important to note that Jamiyyath Salaf in the run-up to the Maldives Elections in 2023 had some crucial rounds of discussions with the Jumhooree Party. The meeting between JP and Jamiyyath Salaf discussed an election-related proposal by Henveiru West MP Hassan Latheef on behalf of the main-ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s President, Mohamed Nasheed. Ways in which JP, Jamiyyath Salaf, and Nasheed could work together were also discussed. However, Jamiyyath Salaf expressed its unwillingness to work with Nasheed and accused Nasheed of promoting anti-Islamic ideologies. They noted that during President Nasheed’s administration, the government promoted close relations with Israel and held an Israeli eye camp in the Maldives.

Jamiyyath Salaf is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and Dr Muizzu is content in accepting them being sheep. And with each passing day as Islamic radicalism grows in Maldives, if you dig deeper you will find traces of the Islamic radical mindset being spread by extremist organizations in Maldives, Jamiyyath Salaf being one of the most influential and effective in radicalizing the young people of Maldives.

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