Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, chief spokesperson of the religious Adhaalath party and former State Islamic Minister, has been accused of sexual misconduct in a video broadcast by local media Raajje TV, in which he is seen speaking with a figure in a hijab before leading her through a doorway.
“The video shows Shaheem with a woman who is not his wife, talking and holding hands and going into a bedroom,” said Raajje TV’s Assistant News Editor Dhanish Nasheed.
When Minivan News expressed doubt that it could be accurately concluded that the room was a bedroom, Nasheed claimed that the corner of a bed was visible in the video.
Nasheed said Raajje TV obtained the video from the video-sharing website Daily Motion, however it has since been removed from that site.
Broadcasting the video as evidence of a “sex scandal”, Raajje TV claimed the station could not release further footage in the interest of public decency. Today media was speculating that the woman in the video was the daughter of a senior member in the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), however her face was not visible in the footage.
Although the only identifying features visible in the video were a profile of the woman’s nose, her watch and a white-cased phone, Raajje TV claimed she was not a wife of Shaheem.
Local media Haveeru reported the alleged scandal on January 7, but the story was removed within an hour of its publication online.
Shaheem has spoken several times to the media in recent weeks expressing Adhaalath’s discontent over the government’s reaction to demands made by religious protesters on December 23, 2011.
Asked whether the tape might be a set-up engineered for political purposes, Dhanish Nasheed insisted that it was not a set-up and that the station believed “something was definitely going on.”
In the video, currently available on Raajje TV’s YouTube channel, a camera at hip-level captures Shaheem speaking with a woman in a black hijab. Aside from her phone, watch and black bag, as well as a brief profile of her nose, no identifying features of the woman are visible during the film.
Shaheem smiles throughout the meeting, raising his eyebrows a few times in a playful fashion, and the two check their respective phones.
At one point the girl is directed to a water bottle behind the camera. The camera moves when she rises to take the bottle.
The meeting concludes when Shaheem takes the girl’s hand while circling around to sit next to her, just behind the camera’s view. The footage of the two holding hands appears to have been repeated several times, implying a longer grasp. The two subsequently rise and leave the room.
Shaheem, who has been identified as one of the world’s top 500 Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, told Minivan News he would issue his comment on the matter at a later date.
“I do not wish to comment on matters regarding my private life while I am waiting for evidence. I will issue my comment when the time is appropriate,” he said.
Shaheem indicated that his work with Adhaalath Party has not been interrupted.
Police officials did not wish to comment.
In early 2011 a series of sex scandal videos were released implicating members of Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) and the former Cabinet Secretary.
A police investigation was launched in response to the videos and several arrests were made, including minors. They have since been released, however the cases have not yet been prosecuted as the investigations are ongoing.