Translation of news article written by Mihaaru Reporter Niumathullah Idhurees on 11th May 2022.
Note: This translation does not reflect the views of laadheenee.com and is posted here to provide a more accessible English translation of the news article, and also to act as a resource on how the Maldivian press reports on Laadheenee issues.
Photo description: Mohamed Rusthum during his trial today at the criminal court.
Mohamed Rusthum Mujuthabaa, who was arrested and put on trial under charges of blaspheming on social media against Allah, Islam, and the Prophet, has pled guilty to those offences.
The charges against Rusthum, who is from the island of Thinadhoo, included “conspiring to undermine religious unity” and possession of pornography. This is because Rusthum had said vile things about Allah, Islam, and the Prophet on Twitter and Facebook; and because of pornographic imagery that was on a hard drive recovered from his room.
At the start of the hearing, judge Mohamed Misbaah stated that even though the opportunity to acquire a lawyer was presented earlier, since a lawyer had still not been found, that the proceedings would continue without one. However he stated that the opportunity to find a lawyer would continue to exist until the end of the trial.
Rusthum stated that he was having difficulty finding a lawyer to defend him due to the nature of the charges.
When asked by the Judge about why he had been absent from two previously scheduled hearings, Rusthum stated that it was because he had not managed to find a lawyer, and that he “had no choice” and that it was one of his “techniques” of trying to delay the trial.
The judge responded to this by stating that if someone was having trouble finding a lawyer or experiencing other such issues that might delay the trial, that the option was always there to inform the court using various methods such as email, and that if they were to continue to not turn up to court without notice or explanation, that he could order to have them detained for the duration of the trial.
Since the charges against Rusthum does not count a serious crime under the law, and because a lawyer had not been appointed despite being given a chance to find a lawyer, the judge had ordered the hearings to continue anyways [this paragraph is really confusing, it starts and ends with difference tenses].
When ordered to answer for the charges against him, Rusthum stated that he had already admitted to them at the Magistrate Court of G.Dh Thinadhoo, which is where he was taken to after his initial arrest.
When the judge asked if he was admitting to the crimes due to any pressure or influence, Rusthum stated that he was admitting to the crimes out of his own free will.
When told that he would have to serve a sentence of 5 months in jail if found guilty, Rusthum stated that he had already been locked up for 6 months, and that therefore there was no need for him to be imprisoned again.
However the judge responded by stating that no matter how many days were spent in jail, that the trial needs to go forward, and that any reductions of the sentence would be decided at the end of it.
The judge questioned the state about Rusthum claims of spending 6 months in jail, and the state prosecutor responded saying that their records showed that Rusthum had been detained for a total of 29 days, 22 hours, and 19 minutes. As a result, the judge ordered the prosecution to further clarify this matter.
Rusthum has been arrested two times.
The first time was in 2019.
After being released, he was once again arrested for blaspheming in 2020.
When asked about his detainment, Rusthum has stated that 80% of the jail is against him, and that the majority of these are people who hold extremist beliefs. He also stated that people begin “living by the sunnah” very quickly once jailed. He stated that he narrowly avoided being hit in the head by a policeman’s baton on the way to the trial.
The proceedings ended today with the announcement that further hearings would be carried out on the 23rd of this month.
Translation of some of the comments on the article:
Majoojay – 12 May 2022
“Such a dangerous person should not be allowed to roam free.”
Lol – 11 May 2022
“Most of the people here do not know the difference between becoming an apostate from becoming an unbeliever and becoming an apostate due to blaspheming against Islam. For people who become apostates by blaspheming against Islam, there is no other verdict in Islam other than to run a sword along their throat. If you don’t know, then ask someone who does!”
Isthafaa Abubakuru – 12 May 2022
“A sharp sword eh? This isn’t cave times! Are you crazy! Have you looked at YouTube and other such medias?”
Lyfah’ jallah’laa [put (him) in prison for life] – 11 May 2022
“This is not someone worth letting free. A very dangerous person. What is the sentence for people who mock Allah?”
Lol – 11 May 2022
“Such people (should have their) throats sliced with a sharp sword and then have their heads separated from their bodies. Putting someone in jail for five months is a farce.”
Imbrahimbe’ – 11 May 2022
“I don’t mean to say anything bad. I don’t mean anyone ill will. (But) I’m pretty sure that Rusthum has some kind of mental problem going on. Maldivians don’t have much awareness about mental illnesses. I would like to tell his family ‘Gradually give him mental health treatment and then give him religious advice. Don’t let him lose the pleasure of both worlds.’ I pray for Rusthum family that they may have patience and find the path back to salvation easy.”
Nike – 11 May 2022
“This is a very typical stunt, the goal is to obtain asylum from a European country.”
Gamaaru kamakee thabee-ee kammeh. Jaahil kamakee [Stupidity is a natural trait. Ignorance is] – 11 May 2022
“Can you force someone to maintain their religion? And is what someone writes on their personal Facebook profile something that can be judged under the law? And nude imagery? Have you had a look at Netflix? How many peoples phones have Netflix? You’d find photos much easier on the internet than on a hard disk. The crime is looking at it huh? The most popular Netflix playlist in the Maldives is the one with pornography on it! What then? The whole of society needs to open up and get with the times.”