Islanders of Thaa Atoll Buruny have been protesting since last Thursday demanding the government build a new mosque on the island.
Moosa Abdul Gadir, councilor of Buruny, told Minivan News that the protest began when the Islamic Ministry decided to upgrade an old mosque on the island instead “of building a new one with the Rf4.6 million that the government of Brunei gave the Islamic Ministry.”
”Our people are disheartened because the Islamic Ministry told us last year in October that they would build a new mosque for us with the money from the Brunei government, which would be large enough for 700 people. But later they said would upgrade the existing old mosque,” said Moosa.
Moosa said that 90 percent of the island’s population took part in the protests outside the gate of the island office, wearing white bandanna’s on their head to represent that they were peaceful protesters.
Moosa said that the protest was peaceful, and was proceeding according to the law, but warned that ”humans can only be patient for a certain amount of time.”
He said the Islamic Ministry had not discussed the change in its decision with either the islanders or the island office.
”When the protesters gathered on Thursday they gave a signal that they would build a new mosque,” Moosa said, ”but again now they have disagreed on building it.”
Moosa said there five mosques on the island: one of them which he claimed was large enough for only 10 people and was built near the graveyard, the second was 100 years old, the third “was built for Villifushi people who migrated after the tsunami incident” and the remaining two mosques were “woman mosques”.
”I think the Islamic Ministry is trying to make people hate the government,” he said. ”Why else they would do something like this?”
State Minister for Islamic Affairs Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed meanwhile guaranteed that the Islamic Ministry would not make a decision that would make the islanders unhappy.
”They were having a dispute among themselves over whether to build a new mosque or upgrade the old mosque,” Shaheem said. ”That’s why the Ministry was confused. We will do it according to how the people wish.”