02/18/2014, 00.00
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Maldives, President Yameen’s new goals: Islamization and partnership with Beijing

Elected leader three months ago, he has imposed an increasingly conservative vision of Sunni Muslim. On the international level he strengthens ties with China, a strategic commercial partner. In schools the study of Arabic and the Koran introduced.

Malé ( AsiaNews / Agencies) - The return of an increasingly conservative and fundamentalist vision of Islam in terms of domestic policy, hand in hand with a strengthening of diplomatic and trade relations with China on the international stage. This is how analysts and experts describe as the first three months of government of President Abdulla Yameen , elected on 17 November to lead the Maldives archipelago of over 1,110 Indian Ocean islands. The priorities set by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs for 2014 include a block of all religions except Sunni Islam; adherence to the principles of Islam;  and the legitimization of the fatwa or legally binding judgments issued by the Islamic Fiqh Academy. The ministry has also signed a partnership agreement with Saudi Arabia, which provides for the allocation of a fund of more than 100 thousand dollars, for the "common goal" to develop and improve the study of the Koran and the Muslim religion.

The Ministry of Education has introduced the study of the Arabic language in schools and the obligation to study the Koran in school until the seventh grade. The goal of the president and his conservative government is to "protect" the Islamic religion by " internal forces ", ie the progressive parties and pro-democracy , and the " foreign powers " associated with the "Christian" West.

Yameen came to power introducing himself as a savior of Islam: His election manifesto promoted the application of the death penalty according to the dictates of sharia, Islamic law, and the strengthening of relations with the Arab Muslim nations. He also described his challenger Mohamed Nasheed - leader of the liberal faction, first elected president (in 2008) in a democratic manner and kicked out in 2012 with a coup - several times as an "enemy" of Islamic internal unity.

In terms of foreign policy, the new course desired by the president emerged immediately after the elections when Beijing announced a loan of $ 8.2 million for "the realization of development projects and the advancement of public services". On January 28, China , through its ambassador Wang Fukang , also announced the intention to build at least 1,500 housing units in the Maldives. It is a major shift in foreign policy, which his predecessor had focused more on alliances with India and the countries of the Western bloc.

A choice that had earned him a strong internal opposition with accusations that he was a friend of Israel and the "Christian West" and aimed to undermine the Muslim religion. The political battle turned into a riot, which ended with the coup and the ouster of Nasheed , a former human rights activist, in February 2012.

The Republic of Maldives is a series of atolls in the Indian Ocean, south- west of India, inhabited by little more than 350 thousand people. Considered a "tourist's paradise", there is no freedom of worship and Sunni Islam is the state religion. In 2008, a constitutional amendment denied non-Muslims the opportunity to have citizenship. Alcohol and pork can only be served at the airport and the resorts where local staff do not work. In addition, "idols" of other religions may not be introduced into the country.


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