The government of Maldives, on Wednesday, condemned the increase in aggression and provocative rhetoric towards the religion of Islam and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), dubbing them as hate speech.
“Efforts to denigrate Islam and the beloved Prophet through derogatory remarks and blasphemous publications cannot be categorized as a reasonable exercise within the right of the freedom of expression”, the statement declared.
The statement went on to emphasise that as a democratic society built on the tenets of Islam, Maldives remains committed to upholding the freedom of expression as a fundamental human right.
“Maldives is opposed to all forms of extremism, whether in the name of religion or the purported exercise of the right to freedom of expression”.
The government of the 100 percent Muslim community further condemned all acts of terrorism and is committed to combatting terrorism and violent extremism in all its forms.
“However, Maldives strongly refutes any attempt to link the peaceful religion of Islam with terrorism or violent extremism. Such a characterization is not only fundamentally flawed, but irresponsible”.
The statement concluded with the island nation urging everyone to exercise respect and tolerance and resort to non-violent and non-provocative means in the exercise of their fundamental human rights.
“Maldives remains committed to working with the international community to promote peace and tolerance”.
The government made these declarations at a time where the Muslim community is echoing with calls to boycott products made in France, after the country’s President Emmanuel Macron made certain anti-Islamic comments in the aftermath of the beheading of a local schoolteacher Samuel Paty.
The teacher was murdered by a teenaged extremist, after Paty showed his class drawings of the prophet during a debate on free speech.
After the killing, Macron came out in support of the teacher, saying, “[Paty was killed] because he embodied the Republic which comes alive every day in classrooms, the freedom that is conveyed and perpetuated in schools. Samuel Paty was killed because Islamists want our future and because they know that with quiet heroes like him, they will never have it.”
Macron also promised that France would not “renounce the caricatures”, which led to severe backlash from Muslim communities on social media under Arabic hashtags, which gained momentum over the weekend.
The incident and the events that followed led to several Muslim countries, including Turkey, Jordan, Iran and Kuwait to criticise the publication of the caricatures, which originally appeared in France in Charlie Hebdo, sparking a terrorist attack on the satirical newspaper in 2015 that killed 12 people.
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