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To chop or not to chop
President Mohamed Nasheed's Weekly Radio Speech (no.126)
16 December 2011
translated by Maldives Culture editors

President Mohamed Nasheed
President Nasheed

Greetings and may peace be with you.

As I meet with you today via radio, the Maldivian people once again find themselves at an important crossroad. Our traditional religious practices are ancient, as we all know, and we still maintain those traditions. They are specifically set out in the Maldivian Constitution and current Penal Code, and in the general laws.

The constitution clearly says that Islam is the state religion. The basis of all our legal statutes and regulations is Islam, and statutes and regulations must conform with Islamic principles.

Until now, the Maldivian government has always granted clemency regarding certain penalties prescribed by Islamic sharia law; especially punishments like stoning, severing hands, and beheading. But we have not done the same with flogging. As we consider our options concerning that issue, voices are being raised in our society in support of introducing those punishments we have never practised before.

When people call out for the protection of Islam, they are actually calling for the introduction of these new punishments. In my view, we need to decide which path is correct - our age-old practices, or the things we are being told by these people.

The party that I am affiliated with, the Maldivian Democratic party, has decided to hold a peaceful demonstration on 23 December to examine the two alternatives and the reality of the differences between them.

The Maldivian Democratic Party and the country's other political parties need to help the Maldivian people understand the new Penal Code bill that is waiting to be passed in the Majlis.

We need to make decisions. I think the DRP, the PPM, the Jumhoori party, and other parties need to say what they believe to the people of this country, and what their thoughts are on these matters. The Maldivian Democratic party needs to do the same.

One decision the Maldivian Democratic party has already made is that when it comes to matters of religion, the party acts according to the good advice and recommendations of religious scholars. The government wishes to continue with this policy into the future. However, we need to know how we are going to draft specific provisions of the new Penal Code, and to complete it.

My hope is that we will start making these decisions without further delay, and the Majlis will finalise and pass the new Penal Code bill in its next session.

The responsibility is now with the Majlis. I think the Majlis can make mature decisions. To restore the certainty, peace and happiness that the people need, the Majlis should finalise this bill as soon as possible.

I pray that we have a more pleasant future, and I pray we achieve prosperity in this life and the next. Praise to Allah, and may peace be with you.

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