Foreign minister Dunya Maumoon has expressed concern with external actors providing support to radical elements in societies transitioning to democracy.
“Radicalism has no place in Islam,” Dunya declared at the 42nd session of the council of foreign ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Kuwait.
“Nonetheless, in every corner of our Ummah, faces of radicalism stare back at us. It is most distressing to the Maldives that external actors to continue to provide all forms of support to such radical elements, particularly in emerging democracies,” she said in an address delivered on Thursday.
Nearly a dozen Maldivian jihadis have reportedly died in Syria.
Since the first reports of Maldivians travelling for jihad surfaced last year, a steady stream of recruits have left the country, including couples and entire families. The government has not previously suggested that foreigners could be involved in recruiting locals.
In January, commissioner of police Hussein Waheed estimated over 50 Maldivians could be fighting in foreign civil wars, but the opposition says the figure could be as high as 200.
The government has since drafted a new terrorism law that criminalises participation in foreign wars.
Dunya meanwhile called for unity among Muslims in order “to rebuild the fallen bridges of tolerance.”
Islamic civilisation was once the standard bearer, “not only in science and innovation, but also in maintaining peace and promoting tolerance,” she said, and “tolerance was once the soft power of the Islamic Ummah.”
She also condemned “Israel’s illegal settlements in Palestine” on behalf of the government.
“The Maldives calls on countries around the world to support the state of Palestine and to recognise its sovereignty in Palestinian territories,” she said.
“Peace has to win over war in Syria, Libya, and Yemen. Compassion has to be shown to the large number of Rohingya Muslims stranded in the open seas in South East Asia.”
Dunya said she was “heartened to see an increased number of women colleagues” in the OIC meeting.
“Around the world women continue to face hardships. Islam liberated women and elevated their status in society and family. And Muslim countries need to continue with, instead of constraining, the rights of women,” she said.
The democratic reform agenda launched in 2004 by her father, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, “has transformed the country into a vibrant multi-party democracy without compromising our Islamic values and heritage,” she continued.
“The government of President Yameen is determined to see through the reform process. Islamic civilisation brought revolutionary changes to the systems of governance,” she said.
“It recognised the dignity of the human. The OIC is ideally placed to reposition the Islamic Ummah in the global platform as the new-age House of Wisdom.”