Jamaican dancehall artist Sean Paul has cancelled his appearance at tomorrow’s ‘Tourist Arrival Countdown’ show in Malé, citing safety concerns.
“Unfortunately, the world has reached a point where cyber threats must affect real life decisions,” read a message posted on the artists official facebook page this morning.
“With that said, due to safety concerns for my crew and the people of The Maldives attending the Tourist Arrival Countdown, it is with deep regret that I have come to the difficult decision to cancel my appearance.”
The cancellation follows the posting of an online death threat against the singer last week, as well as calls from religious groups within the country to stop the performance.
Tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb has told Minivan News that Sean Paul had decided to continue with the concert before pressure at home caused him to make the last minute decision to cancel.
“We discussed the situation with Sean Paul and he was convinced to come, but the Maldives is new to the Caribbean and he was under pressure from Jamaican media and from local fans,” explained Adeeb.
Adeeb revealed that the concert will go ahead, with organisers now planning to hold an additional show on January 8. He expressed regret at events but determination to hold a successful show.
“We will not give up and will make the best performance,” said Adeeb.
A tweet from the MP Ahmed Nihan early this morning showed that preparations for the show were continuing at the national stadium.
— Ahmed Nihan (@ahmed_nihan) December 29, 2014
The organisers have joined the President’s Office and Adeeb in condemning attempts to defame the Maldives’ reputation in the international media.
President Abdulla Yameen had called on all Maldivians this week to leave aside political differences to assure a safe environment for visitors, while his office declared the threat to have been a hoax.
Sean Paul, who was to appear at the free concert upon the invitation of Adeeb, thanked his Maldivian fans for their support and wished for their continued safety.
“I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the Government and the people of the The Maldives for their invitation and wish for them peace,” read the statement.
A joint statement from the Maldives Police Services and the Maldives National Defence Force yesterday also called for citizens to refrain from inciting fear and damaging the country’s reputation.
“It is the responsibility of the national defense forces to ensure the protection of all officials and visitors to the Maldives. Also, it is the duty of these forces to safeguard individuals who visit the Maldives for business, investment and to participate in meetings and other activities,” read the statement.
“The Maldives’ economy is dependent on income generated through tourism. The defense forces will not hesitate to bring to a stop any action which might hinder the economic development of the country.”
Police are reported to have searched a house and questioned an individual in connection to the video after obtaining a warrant. Spokesmen were not responding to calls at the time of publication.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed – himself often accused of un-Islamic policies by then-opposition groups – has tweeted this morning about the show’s cancellation.
“The government is hypocritical. However, no good is going to come to the Maldives by halting the government organized new year’s show,” said the opposition party leader.
Following the video threat posted on Youtube last week (since removed), Islamic Minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed tweeted in condemnation of both the threat and the concert itself.
“Bringing foreigners to hold shows coinciding with the New Year is unacceptable. Issuing death threats is also unacceptable.”
“Lessons have to be learnt from the past of those who committed acts challenging the Muslim culture,” read a second tweet.
Tourism minister Adeeb explained today that plans for the concert had been discussed at cabinet level, and that Shaheem’s tweets were his own personal opinion and not those of the Islamic ministry.
Local religious NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf has also condemned the concert, calling upon “all brothers and sisters to refrain from participating in such misleading actions, and to do whatever you are capable of doing, in whichever field you can, to ensure that such activities cannot be carried out”.
Local media also reported that NGO Jamiyyathul Bayan had appealed to all religious leaders to take a stand against such ‘haraam’ music shows.
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