Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Maldivan journalist faces police charges for "atheism"

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A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about the tragic case of Ismail Mohamed Didi, a 25-year-old Maldivan who apparently committed suicide following the negative and abusive reaction he received to his admission that he was an atheist and not a Muslim believer.

By way of an update, I wanted to draw your attention to another story emerging from the Maldives, this time involving a 37-year-old journalist, Ismail Khilath Rasheed, who was arrested for allegedly attempting suicide, and subsequently charged with, in his own words, “attempted suicide by overdozing [sic] on less than a gram of hash oil, atheism and homosexuality.”

It appears that Rasheed has a history of criticising the Maldivan state religion in his writing – it is a legal requirement for citizens of the Maldives to be Muslims – and he has since written to Amnesty International to request help in seeking temporary asylum.

As with the case of Ismail Mohamed Didi, Rasheed's predicament serves as a reminder of difficulties faced by so-called "apostates" in countries where the state dictates the religion of its citizens. It would seem that the Maldives has a particularly poor record in this respect, so it's to be hoped such cases continue to attract international attention.
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