A religious sermon televised live on Television Maldives (TVM) was interrupted for violating the state broadcaster’s guidelines, Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) Chairman Ibrahim Umar Manik told a parliamentary sub-committee today.
The MBC chairman along with members of the Maldives Broadcasting Commission were summoned before the Independent Institutions Committee following complaints by MPs of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) that the sermon by religious NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf preacher Sheikh Adam Shameem Ibrahim infringed the rights of the party’s presidential candidate.
“We definitely do not consider [televising the sermon] as anti-campaigning against a particular candidate using religion. [But] around 11:35pm, because his talk was changing a little, we stopped the live [broadcasting],” Manik was quoted as saying by local media.
The state television decided to approve the live broadcast after considering whether it involved either a politician or political party and after determining if the Islamic Ministry had authorised the sermon, Manik explained.
Asked by MPs whether he had heard the Sheikh’s criticism of the MDP’s guest house policy, Manik said MBC will evaluate the content of the sermon and take measures.
Speaking to Minivan News today, Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Rozaina Adam, a member of the sub-committee, explained that the complaints alleged that the religious scholars politicised the sermon titled ‘Andhalus,’ which MDP MPs contended resembled negative campaigning more than a religious sermon.
Rozaina said that MBC Chairman Manik told the committee that the MBC did a background check on the two sheikhs that delivered the sermon to determine if they had previously been in any political parties or if they were affiliated with any political party. Manik claimed that the background check showed that the sheikhs were not involved in political activities.
According to Rozaina, MDP MP Ali Waheed in the meeting noted that Sheikh Shameem had recently visited his constituency and told the people of the area that MDP would kill him if former President Mohamed Nasheed was re-elected and openly campaigned against the party’s candidate.
Rozaina observed that Sheikh Shameem last night talked against MDP policies such as introducing mid-market tourism but did not reflect on more important issues in terms of religion such as murder, gang violence and drugs.
“The MBC Chairman told the MPs that they cut the live feed when the Sheikhs speech was getting politicised,” Rozaina said. “But I don’t know if they actually cut the live feed.”
The sermon last night was organised by NGO Salaf, attended by senior Adhaalath Party members and broadcast live on all local television channels with the exception of MDP-aligned Raajje TV.
The sermons were delivered by Salaf preachers Sheikh Adam Shameem and Sheikh Ahmed Sameer under the title “The Fall of Andalus (Spain).”
Advertisements on social media stated that “the fall of Andalus (Spain) is an event Muslims will never forget. Why did it happen? What lead to the fall of this great Muslim state and what lessons can we draw from this. We present to you ‘Andalus’ by Sheikh Adam Shameem and Sheikh Ahmed Sameer.”