COLOMBO: An outspoken Maldivian blogger known for his liberal views on religion was in intensive care on Tuesday after being stabbed by an attacker outside his home in the capital Male, police said.
Ismail Rasheed, who is better known as “Hilath”, had his blog blocked late last year by the Maldivian telecommunications authorities who claimed it contained anti-Islamic material.
The 37-year-old, who has received death threats in the past, was later arrested following a rally he organised in December in support of religious tolerance and spent nearly a month behind bars.
“We don’t know who attacked him. His condition is said to be stable now,” police spokesman Hassan Haneef told AFP by telephone, adding that they were trying to track down the assailant behind Monday evening’s attack.
The Maldivian government condemned the stabbing, but said Hilath should have sought protection.
“We condemn this attack. Hilath must have known that he had become a target of a few extremists,” Human Resources and Youth Minister Mohamed Shareef told AFP.
“We are not a secular country. When you talk about religion there will always be a few people who do not agree,” he said, adding that the government rejected the use of violence.
Hilath has received support in the past from rights group Amnesty International and the Maldives Journalist Association over the blocking of his blog and threats to his life.
Under the 2008 constitution in the Maldives, a holiday paradise gripped by political unrest, Islam is the only religion its people can legally practise.
Hilath practises Sufi Islam, a moderate mystical form of the religion, and claimed his persecution was by Sunni hardliners who have been gaining in strength in the Indian Ocean archipelago.