Monday, April 13, 2009
Can DRP Unite the Country?
As articulated by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, DRP’s main election promise this time is to unite the country politically and religiously. This is one promise that is unlikely to be fulfilled even if the DRP-PA alliance gets all the seats in the Majlis. We are not talking here about the capability of the alliance, but the impossible nature of achieving social unity, a task no country has achieved in modern times.
In fact developed countries have realized the impossibility of achieving such unity and have adopted a policy of multi-culturalism long ago. The policy involves accepting the differences between various groups and tolerating them.
It’s not actually very difficult to understand why unity cannot be achieved in an information age. When one knows a subject one is likely to have opinions on various aspects of the subject. The more one knows the subject, the stronger his opinions are likely to be. Further, strong opinions are likely to clash. It is such clash of opinions that results in factionalism.
In the Maldives case, religious factionalism started with increased religious awareness created over the last three decades. Religious awareness is still increasing in the Maldives, so factionalism will also keep increasing.
There is no basis for the claim that ignorance is the cause of extremism and jihadism. All academic studies on the subject reveal that jihadists are generally more educated than the average person in the community from which they come. (Recall the academic backgrounds of 9/11 hijackers.)
In the sphere of politics too, awareness is increasing in the Maldives. So political divisions are also likely to increase in the future.
Probably Maumoon himself knows that he will never be able to unite the Maldives the way it used to be. After all, when all the disunity occurred he was firmly in power. What can he do now that he couldn’t do earlier?