Maldives Twitter VS Francesca Borri

*smartphones 😫🔫

The Maldives is one of the most oppressive countries in the world. It has a constitution that makes the lives of non-Muslim and LGBT Maldivians illegal. This makes life incredibly difficult for any progressive Muslims that want to bring about reforms as well as saying anything against extremist sheikhs will get you labled an apostate. Progressive Muslims like @moyameehaa (Ahmed Rizwan / Rilwan) and @yaamyn (Yameen Rasheed) who have spoken out for Maldivian minorities, progressive Islam, and secularism have been taken away from us. Sheikhs are not safe either, as one of the only moderately progressive sheikhs, Afrasheem Ali, was also brutally murdered in 2012.

The greatest battlefield in the war for the hearts and minds of Maldivians is the internet. Bloggers like Hilath Rasheed have been the targets of escalating campaigns of harassment and death threats. In 2012, Hilath himself barely survived his neck being slashed. This was after years of attacks against people deemed laadheenee.

Maldivian extremists have used the internet for their terror and propaganda activities. One of the earliest Maldivian extremist groups, of which Rilwan was an ex-member, called “dot” or “dotu” literally got it’s name from “dot com”. Right now there are dozens of terrorist recruitment facebook and twitter pages, telegram, whatsapp, and viber groups, and websites brainwashing Maldivians with extremist propaganda.

Their latest efforts including making a list of Dhivehi Kaafarun (Maldivian infidels) on twitter (which twitter support refused to remove, the account is still active), and a telegram group called “MV Murtad Watch” (Maldives apostate watch). This has also not been removed despite even making the local news.

Maldivian extremists are free to spread hate on the internet. Especially if they use Dhivehi, a language that cannot be automatically translated. This means that the support staff of these platforms often don’t even know how to recognise hate and fear speech when it is written in Dhivehi.

I hope I have set the scene for you. An intolerant constitution that outright bans thinking and freedom of conscience. Extremists getting away with murder, and using technology as a means of oppression in a highly connected and tech literate society, while the multi-million dollar companies that run them turn a blind eye.

Enter Francesca Borri with the radical insight that there is only one bookstore in Male’, all the while seeming to imply that most Maldivians don’t know English.

And that there is no local cuisine.

And that Maldivians are amazed by smartphones.

But perhaps most insulting is the fact that we’d give a damn about the Olympics when we could be watching football. Also how the heck do you reckon people cut up the “Battle of Aleppo” for broadcast television? Do you think they had an HBO style miniseries?

You get the picture. A hastily strung together piece of orientalist trash that makes the situation worse for people suffering because of Maldivian extremists. The last thing progressive Muslim, non-Muslim, and LGBT Maldivians need is more misinformation out there. Especially not from someone with a savior complex.

How can you trust anything written in this book when it features so many blatant fabrications? Fabrications deliberately worded to make Maldivians sound like backwards people rife with extremism who can’t read and are technology inept.

Well I’ll have you know us Maldivians are backwards people who are incredibly tech literate. And we can read too, to the shock of the author who is currently at the receiving end of the wrath of Maldives twitter.

Here are some of the funniest and most insightful tweets directed at this latest savior who thought they could turn a profit on the suffering of the global south. These are the words of Maldivians speaking about their own country. Listen to them.

(rough translation of the dhivehi sentence: “All puffed up, saying something about Islam and how we need to kill the gays with the other breath.” [FK stands for Firihen Kulhin - homosexual men, or Firihen Kulhi - gay sex. Both are often used as a slur by homophobes. It’s common sight growing up to see it scrawled across the walls of school toilets, usually followed by the name of the person. Like “FK Adam”. This is done to intimidate LGBT students and students suspected of being LGBT. ] )

(“Dhon meehaa” literally means “fair skinned person”. It is the word used by Maldivians for “white people”. And it’s true, turn a Maldivian upside down and shake them little. The contents of an Apple Store will fall out).

(vaguthu [“time” lol] is a Maldivian tabloid rag that primarily posts moral panic inducing “journalism” about Maldivian minorities).

Nothing brings Maldivians together like a good roast 🔥.

Update: Just to add to the absurdity

Guess I must have hallucinated seeing this local craftsman .

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And this one as well.

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I must be delirious from all the poisonous reef fish I’ve been eating.