The majority of Mauritians did not turn a blind eye to the legislative elections of November 7, 2019. Despite signs calling for the rejection of human law and not to vote, so as not to rebel “against Allah”.
By Ian Hamel, in Port-Louis
Officially, the election campaign was conducted in a calm atmosphere. Prime Minister Parvind Jugnauth, son of former Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth, maintained a comfortable majority in Parliament, with 42 deputies out of 70. Since its independence in 1968, this former British colony has been ruled by Hindus, the majority in the country. Most Muslims (15 to 20% of the population) preferred national parties over Islamist organizations. They have not won a single seat. It is true that these radical groups do not inspire much confidence, as did the preacher Javed Meetoo, trained in Pakistan, who defended Sharia law and the establishment of an Islamic state in Mauritius. Despite this, Javed Meetoo managed to get the Gay Pride cancelled in Port-Louis.
Signs calling on Muslims not to vote may not have been very successful. But they show the influence of the theologian Ibn Taymiyya (1263-1328), a reference of Salafist and Jihadist movements, for whom power belongs only to God. The conduct of human policy (and therefore elections) being illegitimate. Nevertheless, these posters, like others who call Muslims “not gaining voting rights MSM” in Creole because he would associate “burqa with prostitution”, “not gaining rights from your MMM”, because “it is or can say YES to LGBT. A Man married to a Man” attests to a desire to fragment Mauritian society. Until then, Hindus, Muslims, whites, Creoles and Chinese lived in good harmony on this small island of barely 2,000 km2. A few years ago, there were almost no women in burqas on the streets of Plaine-Verte, the Muslim district of Port-Louis, walking a few steps behind bearded people in djellaba.
But this radicalization also takes on other faces. Lawyer Shakeel Mohamed, a member of the opposition Labour Party and former Minister of Labour, was easily re-elected. He dresses in a suit and ties and does not wear a beard. But his campaign did not focus on unemployment, the housing crisis or the drug scourge, but on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Kashmir and the Rohingya genocide, in order to denounce the oppression of Muslims around the world. To discredit the current government, he has repeatedly accused it (without providing any evidence) of working hand in hand with Israel, citing a company, based in Mauritius (including Mossad), involved in the sale of arms and which would have the blood of Palestinians, and therefore Muslims, on its hands… has the rot already settled in? As Jean-Pierre Chevènement, the former French Minister of the Interior, recently stated, “civil wars always start at a low level”. Referring to the wars of religion, the president of the Res Publica Foundation reminds us that the first stake dates back to 1523, and the massacres on St Bartholomew’s Day in 1572.
On April 22, 2015, Tariq Ramadan, then Director of the Research Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CILE), based in Doha, Qatar, conducted his first workshop in Mauritius, entitled “Introduction to Ethics”. The Swiss preacher has been visiting this island in the Indian Ocean since 1995. The Islamic Foundation in London was responsible for the arrival of the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Since then, Tariq Ramadan has been travelling to Mauritius every two years for a fortnight. In an interview with the local press in January 2015, Tariq Ramadan already developed the same strategy as today, after his incarceration, following accusations of rape. He says that throughout the world, he would be hailed “as an agent of appeasement and reconciliation”. On the other hand, France would be the only country not to appreciate him at his true value. “France has a problem with what I represent because I am very embarrassing,” he says. “In fact, I am the figure of the former colonized, the Arab, the Algerian, who suddenly begins to express himself in the language of Molière, without complex. That is, I don’t expect anyone to speak for me,” he adds. The Muslim associations that brought him in, such as the Dawah House, are now defending his innocence. At the entrance of the building, rue Labourdonnais in Port-Louis, the reception is held by a woman in a burqa. Hossen Kurrimboccus, one of the officials of the Dawah House, defends the presumption of innocence and declares himself ready to invite Tariq Ramadan back to Mauritius as soon as he can go there.
Rehza Khan, general manager of a textile company, is the coordinator of all the associations that were responsible for the preacher’s stay on the island. A significant budget because he came with his whole family, his wife and his four children. Iman Ramadan gave his only interview in the local daily L’Express (before her husband’s incarceration). It does not condemn polygamy, while recognizing that the norm is monogamy. “Polygamy may be a solution at some point. For example, in the time of the Prophet, many men died in battles and there were too many women,” it says. Would it have dared to say it in the Western press?
Similarly, Tariq Ramadan presented the terrorist Mohamed Merah as a “victim of the system. He was kicked out of school, he looked for work, we didn’t take him”. Would he have allowed himself to say the same thing in France? Rehza Khan, the leader of several Muslim associations, does not hide his admiration for the author of the “Genius of Islam”: “We owe him a debt for everything he has given us. It has helped us to consolidate our life together,” he says. “Isn’t his indictment politicized? The criminal brigade concluded that the testimony of its accusers was unreliable and that there were no charges against Tariq Ramadan. Rape is not proven,” says Rehza Khan.
The preacher can apparently always count on his fan club in the Indian Ocean.