Maldives: Aftermath of an assassination attempt

It looks like a scene out of a Tintin or Asterix comic book. On January 8, during a campaign tour of a northern atoll, while the Maldives dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was shaking hands with people gathered to welcome him at Hoarafushi island, a 20 year-old lunged at him with a kitchen knife concealed in a national flag. He was intercepted by a 15-year-old Boy Scout who injured his hand while trying to save Asia’s longest serving ruler who has completed 29 years in office. The Boy Scout Mohamed Jaisham becomes an overnight celebrity and a national hero.

Most Maldivians ridiculed the comic nature of this incident and it is only natural that foreigners talk about it with some sense of humour as seen from this post by Sri Lankan blogger Ravana.

Apparently, some Maldivian chap attempted to assassinate their President with a kitchen knife. Coming from a country with a raging internal conflict, personally, I am used to slightly more specialized weaponry. Like a suicide bombing. Or a Claymore mine. Or an AK-47. I find it difficult to comprehend a political assassination with a sharp pointed object first invented in the paleolithic era. It was not even a sword, a machete, or a rambo knife that was used; it was a kitchen knife, presumably stolen from a mother or a wife in the middle of cooking a tuna curry. How quaint, how homegrown…

How bloody ineffective. Predictably, the assassination attempt with the kitchen knife failed. The President’s life was saved by a boyscout, armed to the teeth with scarf and woggle, who happened to be standing nearby.

Ravana received some blunt comments from some Maldivians for his post but a look at Maldivian blogosphere shows that several Maldivians share the same view that the incident had a comic feel.

Moyameeha points out an odd coincidence that it was on a January 8 that Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the scout movement died.

there are some interesting things about this event.especially about the boy scout part.Gayom is the chief scout of maldives.and robert baden powell, the founder of scouting died on 08th january 1941.and also galileo galilei died on that day in 1642 and elvis presley was born on the same day 1935…. not a bad day to die eh? … but once again ‘thanx to mohamed jaisham and allah!’, he didn't.

Anarchist Radical Maldivian Youth also makes fun of the fact that Gayoom is the Chief Scout of the Maldives. During his 29 years of autocratic rule in the Maldives, Gayoom had been in several roles and positions including Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces, Minister of Defense and supreme judicial authority.

Gayoom’s security detail has been ridiculed because it was a Boy Scout who had to step in to save the dictator.

heheh what were they doing? Maybe their MI2 glasses were just too dark for them to see anything.
Seriously, how come they didn't spot anything before the Scout intervened? Anyway, its all over… (I think)

Thakurubey also shares some viewpoints about the role of the bodyguards in the incident.

One may wonder why an assassination attempt, albeit one on a country’s ruler, is taken so lightly by the people. Obviously, this incident shows the level of mistrust that Maldivian people have on their government. A large number of people believe that the incident was faked and staged by Gayoom to win sympathy votes in a forthcoming presidential election that could be the first multi-party election in the country. Political parties were allowed only in 2005.

The President’s Spokesperson was quick to blame the assassination attempt on Gayoom’s political rivals. However, in a press conference on January 13, Maldives Police Service said the incident is under investigation and that they have not found any link to a political or religious grouping so far. The government’s use of the incident to discredit opposition only adds fuel to speculation that it was a staged assassination attempt and a part of a public relations gimmick.

The incident, however, has more serious undertones. On September 29, 2007 the first ever bomb attack in the Indian Ocean archipelago occurred in a public park and injured sightseeing tourists. The attack was masterminded by an extremist religious group. Mohamed Murshid, the young man who lunged at Gayoom with a kitchen knife, is said to have extremist leanings.

The incident also shows the level of frustration in the traditionally peaceful Maldivian society. After enduring torture at the hands of a ruthless regime for almost 30 years, the people are lured into religious fanaticism and political extremism. Despite having the highest per capita income in South Asia, the gap between the rich resort owners and poor islanders is very high. Under Gayoom’s rule, Maldives has become a haven for paedophiles and hell for expatriate workers.

The blogger Iddu gives a good summary of present day Maldivian society.

Well there is a Maldivian saying that “the ekel you sharpen will pierce in to your own eyes”. This is the reality of this violence. Over the past years people have been deprived of various rights and the worsening socio economic factors lead to the demise of social harmony once enjoyed by us. The terror we face now has not been created on one fine day with the fabrication of party politics in the country. It has been inflating over the past 30 years and blasted out with the inception of party politics and a new wave of freedom.

We are still in an enigma, and most of us are unaware of what freedom means and we are still not aware of our rights. While we talk about common street crimes and violence everyday, the hidden white collar crimes go on raging our economy. Corruption is at its peak and a handful of cronies of the government keep on fattening their coffers.The soccial injustice to common people are ripping them of their moral and ethical values.

1 comment

  • chinomnso

    Rather deplorable attempt however this shows us just how desperate the people are becoming, as the use of a knife shows not just simplicity, but the impulse of the action, and the thoughtlessness of the whole plan. I feel a strong connection between the Maldives and Africa, as they both have all the necessary resources for adequate development and living but the rift between the rich and the poor continues to widen.
    If this isn’t some publicity stunt then watch out theres more to come as this just reiterates the fact that people of the Maldives are getting more impatient, as personified in the assassination attempt on their president.
    Can I also plead for the life of the young man responsible for this act and request that judgement is tampered with mercy.

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