Maldives President’s Islamic Agenda: Crackdown on Nonconformity

President Mohamed Muizzu is now pushing forward the agenda to make the country an Islamic state, leaning towards China. Muizzu is striving to present himself as the guardian of Islam. He has consistently targeted the Maldivian Democratic Party to maintain the country’s non-secular status.

Now, Muizzu has initiated the use of the Islamic card, akin to the Trump card, for the upcoming parliamentary elections in the Maldives on April 24. Despite facing opposition to strict Islamic practices, he has accelerated actions. The Maldives police have arrested 12 people for breaking fast during Ramadan. Following Muizzu’s rise to power, restrictions were imposed on Christmas celebrations, and several non-Islamic events sponsored by India were criticized.

Turkey’s Influence in Maldives

Muizzu, under Turkish influence, has made his first foreign trip. It is feared that the Islamicization of the Maldives in recent years will have catastrophic consequences for the country. This is because the country, moving away from India’s secular path, is increasingly leaning towards the Islamic world. Salafism and Wahhabism, strict ideologies, are popular in the Maldives. Hence, over 250 people from the Maldives have gone to fight in Syria, and over 400 have attempted to travel abroad. Under Muizzu’s leadership, the Maldives is also forging relations with Turkey. His first foreign trip was to Turkey. This move indicates a shift towards the Islamic bloc. Maldives has also signed a deal worth 300 crore rupees with Turkey to purchase drones for patrolling, which will be used for petroleum exploration.

Challenges in Cabinet Appointments

It may not be possible for Muizzu to appoint ministers without a majority. Parliamentary elections are scheduled in the Maldives on April 24. Under the Maldivian constitution, the appointment of cabinet ministers and independent institutions can be made without any appointment. But for these appointments to be effective, they need a majority in parliament. It is noteworthy that winning parliamentary elections is crucial for Muizzu. If his party fails to win a majority in parliament or is unable to form a coalition, his policies will be ineffective. He is facing tough opposition from former President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s MDP, who currently holds a majority in parliament. At the end of December, 13 MPs left MDP to join Muizzu’s People’s National Congress (PNC), but this move did not strengthen the foundation of his party.

Niyati Rao

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