The Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation (MNBC) has asked Television Maldives (TVM) to investigate its poll on religious freedom and take measures against those responsible.
Speaking to Minivan News today, Ibrahim Khaleel, managing director of MNBC, said the board has asked Mohamed Asif, deputy director general of MNBC currently in charge of running TVM, to look into the matter after opposition Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) accused the government of attempting to establish other religions in the Maldives.
“I’ve asked Asif to investigate how it happened, and if anyone is responsible, to take measures [against them],” he said. “He will investigate to see if it happened the way they said it did, and take measures based on the findings.”
The poll asked whether freedom of religion should be allowed in the Maldives; the investigation will look into how the topic was chosen and for what purpose, Khaleel said.
In a press release on Monday, the DQP condemned the poll as unconstitutional and accused the government of attempting to introduce religions other than Islam into the Maldives.
The former coalition partner claimed the poll on Sunday night was part of “a devious scheme” intended to show that other religions could be practiced in the country.
The party referred to article 10 of the constitution, which states that Islam shall be the state religion and the basis of all the laws in the Maldives.
Khaleel said he has since watched the show and it was clear that the DQP had taken the poll out of context.
“The discussion was about differences of opinion within Islam, like different sects, and to what extent it should be allowed,” he said.
Two religious scholars, MP Dr Afrashim Ali of the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party and Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, state minister for Islamic affairs, were on the programme.
“If something unconstitutional was being talked about, I find it hard to believe these two scholars would stand by and let it happen,” said Khaleel.
He added it was apparent from DQP’s press release that they did not watch the programme.
Khaleel said it was “regrettable” that a political party was acting “irresponsibly” in issuing such press releases at a time when freedom of speech was in its infancy.
He denied the DQP’s allegation that the poll was taken on orders from the president’s office.
Mohamed Afruh Rasheed, producer of the show, told Minivan News it focuses on “controversial social issues” that were not being openly debated in society or suppressed.
Some of the issues discussed in the programme have included the rights of expatriates and neglect of the elderly as well as press freedom.
The results of Sunday night’s poll were 14 per cent in favour and 82 per cent against.