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Liberal blogger stabbed in the Maldives: police

June 05, 2012

Maldivian President Mohammed Nasheed speaks during a rally against what his supporters call religious extremism in Male, Dec 23, 2011. — Photo by AP

COLOMBO: An outspoken Maldivian blogger known for his liberal views on religion is in intensive care after being stabbed by an attacker outside his home in the capital Male, police said Tuesday.

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 support of religious tolerance in December 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 establish a motive and arrest the attacker.

Rasheed 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 practice.

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.