Last gasp: A Gayoom election poster, 24 October 2008
Photo: Hani Amir
On 17 October last year, British Prime Minister David Cameron received an interesting letter, faxed to his office at 10 Downing Street. It came from none other than Asia’s longest-ruling autocrat, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who had been deposed in late 2008 after he lost the Maldives’ first-ever democratic election – to a man who had led a five-year-long democracy movement and had been jailed at least a dozen times by Gayoom’s regime. In his letter, Gayoom, who ruled the Maldives with an iron-fist for 30 years, alleged that his successor, President Mohamed Nasheed, was intimidating him; he appealed for help from Prime Minister Cameron, urging him to put pressure on President Nasheed following ‘the escalation of attempts to harass and intimidate me and my family’. Gayoom also categorically stated that he has ‘retired’ from politics. ‘As you probably know,’ he wrote, ‘I retired from politics earlier this year and have since been dedicating my time to the development of a not-for-profit charitable foundation that I established earlier this year in my name: The Maumoon Foundation.’
Just four months after writing that letter, Gayoom made a significant u-turn in January, plunging back into direct politics. With an eye on then-upcoming local-council elections – the country’s first ever, held in early February – he began to campaign as the ‘honorary leader’ of the party over which he had once presided, the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP). But even before he started to campaign, President Nasheed warned him that doing so would not be a ‘wise’ move.
Kingpin: Abdulla Yameen, July 2010
Image: Penguin India
Penguin India withdraws The Hindus
On 11 February 2014, Penguin India decided to recall and destroy all remaining copies of Wendy Doniger’s book The Hindus: An Alternative History. The decision was part of an agreement between them and Shiksha Bachao Andolan, a Hindu campaign group that filed a case against the publishers in 2010, arguing that the book was insulting to Hindus and contained “heresies”.
From our archive:
Diwas Kc reviews The Hindus: An Alternative History. (March 2010)