In a message of sympathy towards the victims of the France attacks, President Abdulla Yameen has said the massacre of 12 cartoonists demonstrates “yet again the profound need to counter radicalism, and to promote tolerance and moderation, which are the true values of Islam”.
On January 9, two masked gunmen armed with AK-47 assault rifles forced themselves into the Paris offices of French publication Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 cartoonists including the editor before escaping by car.
The message addressed to the French President, H.E Mr. Francois Hollande, condemned the “massacre at the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris, and other barbaric acts of terrorism unleashed on France in the last few days by a radical group of terrorists”.
Charlie Hebdo has a history of controversy due to its publication of satirical cartoons depicting Prophet Mohamed, which is strictly forbidden in Islam as it is believed to be akin to idolatry.
Audio from CCTV footage captured during the attack revealed that the attackers shouted: “We have avenged the Prophet Mohamed. We have killed Charlie Hebdo,” before departing from the scene.
Both the attackers were since killed at a later confrontation by French Security Forces, while a woman believed to be an accomplice to the attacks have been reported to have travelled to Syria.
In a tweet, Former President Mohamed Nasheed also strongly condemned the attack, while extending his condoleces to the families and friends of the victims.
Meanwhile, Bristish tabloid newspaper the Daily Mirror reported that a Maldivian born man – believed to be an Islamic State Jihadist fighter in Syria – hinted that France would suffer a tragedy the day before the attacks in a tweet. Minivan News has not been able to independently verify these reports.
Speaking to the media last week, Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed revealed that there are over 50 Maldivians fighting in foreign wars.
“These people leave the country under normal procedures. So it is not easy to identify if they are traveling to go fight with foreign rebel groups,” Waheed told the press on Thursday.
In the last two weeks, two immigration officers and a suspect in the brutal murder of MP Dr Afrasheem Ali were reported to be among a group of twelve Maldivians to travel to Syria for Jihad via Turkey. The group also consists of two women and a one-year-old infant.
Maldivians are not barred from international travel, Waheed said, and so “it is not easy to figure out what motive they are traveling for”.
In November, Sri Lankan police detained three Maldivians who were allegedly preparing to travel to Syria through Turkey.
In November, a jihadist group called Bilad Al Sham Media (BASM) – which describes itself as ‘Maldivians in Syria’ – revealed that a fifth Maldivian had died in Syria.
A protest march took place in the capital, Malé, in September, with around 200 participants bearing the IS flag and calling for the implementation of Islamic Shariah in the Maldives.
In late August, Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon issued a press statementcondemning “the crimes committed against innocent civilians by the organisation which identifies itself as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.”
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