MALE, May 29, 2010 (HNS) – A Maldivian man was assaulted Friday evening, after he declared his atheist status to the public during the Q&A session of a lecture given by visiting Indian scholar Dr Zakir Naik.
Mohamed Nazim, 37, said although he was born to a practicing Muslim family and his parents taught him Islam, he was “struggling to believe in religions,” and asked Naik about his “verdict in Islam.”
“Dr Zakir Naik. I am a Maldivian. I am still struggling to believe in religion. That is why I just came to the front of this row. I was born a Maldivian. My parents taught me the religion of Islam. They are good practitioners, actually. I read a lot of books. I have read the translation of Quran. Yet, I still do not believe in a religion. So what do you say, [about] my verdict in Islam? Because Maldives is definitely a Muslim state,” Nazim asked.
When the moderator asked to repeat the question, he said, “My question is I am a Maldivian. I do not believe in religion. What do you think my verdict would be, since Maldives is 100 percent Muslim, as many claim? But I do not believe so.”
Nazim’s question sparked comments of hatred from an angry crowd of around 11,000 with many calling to kill him and attack him, while Naik was answering the question.
Several people rushed towards Nazim, who was sitting at a back row after moving away from the microphone, as an official of the Islamic Ministry tried to escort him out. Police, however, came between Nazim and the crowd and escorted him into custody.
When Police took Nazim to the second block of nearby police building Iskandharu Koshi, the crowd gathered outside the place and demanded his handover. They shouted anti-atheism slogans and called for Nazim’s beheading.
The constitution stipulates Maldives citizens must be Muslims.
When Nazim asked “Does the [penalty] of apostasy come on me?” and “Do you think I was a Muslim because I was born to Muslim parents?” Naik said that according to Prophetic traditions, every child is born as a Muslim and that a Muslim is one who submits his/her will to God. In Islam, death penalty should not necessarily be evoked on every person who leaves Islam, but to those who propagate the non-Islamic faith and speak against Islam, he added.
Oh good, you’re allowed to leave Islam, but don’t you dare speak out against it or you’ll lose your head. How tolerant.
Naik stressed that Nazim was “deviated from Islam” by reading the “wrong books.” He requested Nazim to read the correct books on Islam and translation of Quran and said that by the grace of God, he will come back to the right path.