The Maldives should retract its accusations against the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) – its former Foreign Minister, Ahmed Shaheed – and condemn the calls for his beheading, says the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
USCIRF “strongly condemn[ed]” the accusations from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), which said he had been spreading “evil deeds” among his fellow Maldivians. “The party called on the public to speak out against Dr Shaheed’s ‘irreligious’ activities, which resulted in online postings accusing him of apostasy and calling for his beheading. Coming from the ruling party, this is nothing less than government-sanctioned incitement to violence. That is unacceptable in the Maldives or any other country”, USCIRF said.
Dr Shaheed was appointed as Special Rapporteur on FoRB on 1 November 2016.
The Maldives has been criticised for its human rights record by Amnesty International and is ranked 13th on Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian.
In 2007, Dr Shaheed, known as a reformer, resigned as the country’s Foreign Minister, accusing “conservative elements” in the government of stalling on plans to introduce democracy in the country.