Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair has contended that “spreading baseless and demonstrably false claims” about the government is a “criminal offence”, warning that the government would take measures against such claims.
Speaking at the press conference on Wednesday, Zuhair said that government has been tolerating the false allegations from the opposition targeting the government and President Mohamed Nasheed.
However, Zuhair claimed that it was “serious crime to spread baseless and demonstrably false claims”, adding that “we will not hesitate to take actions against anyone who commits the offence.”
Zuhair’s remarks came following the cases forwarded to the police by President Nasheed, requesting an investigation into claims by DQP council members ‘Sandhaanu’ Ahmed Didi and Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed on DhiTV Sunday night, that the government was “plotting against religious scholars under Jewish guidance” and that it was “working under the influence of Christian priests.”
“Why is it that they have made an office for David Hardingham called ‘Honorary Cousel of the Maldives’?” Ahmed Didi asked appearing on DhiTV Sunday night. “What would a temple priest do? They are running an office for him on our state’s expense. Nasheed has been well hooked. He’s been caught good. He can’t back down.”
Nasheed has been “trying to spread irreligious practices and principles in this country” before he was elected and immediately thereafter, Didi alleged.
He claimed Nasheed has called prominent religious scholars such as Sheikh Ilyas Hussein, Adhaalath party scholars council president, “a terrorist”.
Senior government officials were meanwhile offered “large amounts of money” during foreign visits to introduce freedom of religion in the Maldives. Human Rights Ambassador Mohamed “Go Go” Latheef was made such an offer by “famous American Christians and Jews” but refused, Didi claimed.
However after Nasheed’s visit to England “he could not refuse any of their proposals because he was much too deep in it.”
Meanwhile, Zuhair today dismissed the opposition’s claims.
He insisted that accusing the government of being influenced by “foreign priests” is a serious lie, which has been repeated since Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) came to power in 2008.
Zuhair also condemned the recent press statement from former coalition partner and now minority opposition Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), in which the party accused President Nasheed of spreading lies about the existence of extremists in Maldives.
Referring to the media outlets which reports the allegations, the Press Sercretary said that measures will be taken against anyone who “participates in the criminal offence” of spreading false claims.
According to Zuhair, reporting the demonstrably false allegations of foreign religious influence was a “violation of journalism ethics” and the press secretary urged media to refrain from reporting them.
Head of the Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) Ahmed ‘Hiriga’ Zahir meanwhile said opinions were subjective and it was not the responsibility of the journalist to authenticate claims made by opposition groups or the government.
“Threatening” the media was not conducive to freedom of expression, he said.