One hundred and fifty goats will be sacrificed in a public ceremony in Male’ this evening in a government-organised celebration of 50 years of independence.
However, the former Islamic minister and some other scholars have spoken out against the event, labelling it irreligious.
The ceremony is the first time the government is involved in goat sacrifice events, which have become increasingly popular in recent years. It comes ahead of Independence Day on July 26.
Locals in Male’ have been receiving calls from the campaign office of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) urging them to attend.
The goats will be slaughtered as alms to the attendees after Ishaa prayers and a special prayer of thanks. The event will begin at 6:45 pm at Maafannu stadium in the capital.
Ibrahim Muaz Ali, a member of the event’s organising committee, told a press conference yesterday: “We would like to invite all citizens to this prayer and also suggest bringing children of praying age to this event.”
Muaz said events will be held for schoolchildren to sing religious songs in honour of the occasion, while a special song will be dedicated to the event of alms and prayer. The imam will be Dr. Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, the minister of Islamic affairs.
Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari, former Islamic minister and now a member of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, criticised the sacrifice.
“Even though we don’t know who keeps calling people to attend a prayer which includes alms, be cautious to not to attend such irreligious activities,” he said.
Sheikh Imran Abdulla, president of the conservative religious Adhaalath party, tweeted: “Slaughtering goats. Is it religious or political?”
Muaz rejected the criticism, saying: “This is not irreligious as some may define it. I have not heard of any scholar officially saying so either, but defining it this way is very disappointing.”
No government money will be used for the event, said Muaz, as it is being run in collaboration with businesses and religious groups.
Ablution facilities will be available from the stadium, but Muaz advised people to come fully prepared to avoid the long queues.
An Islamic NGO began the trend of slaughtering imported goats for Eid al-Fitr in 2010, but this is the first time the government has taken on the project. The animals are not indigenous to Maldives.
The goat slaughter is one of a series of events to celebrate the anniversary of the Maldives becoming independent from Britain in 1965. It had previously been a British protectorate since 1887.
Some 2,000 people including the vice president and criminal court chief judge swam from Villingili to Male’ last week in celebration of independence.