Sri Lanka’s SAARC monument has suffered further vandalism and a mosque door was damaged in an ongoing spate of vandalism in Addu City.
On his own website, Islamic Minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari claimed that the attack on the mosque was in retaliation for the vandalism of the Sri Lankan statue, which protesters in Addu have criticised as idolatrous. Earlier last week, Pakistan’s monument was set ablaze and later stolen.
Bari referred to the Quran 6:108, which reads “And do not insult those they invoke other than Allah , lest they insult Allah in enmity without knowledge. Thus We have made pleasing to every community their deeds. Then to their Lord is their return, and He will inform them about what they used to do.”
Bari said he told the state broadcaster MNBC that as the monuments were gifted by neighbouring countries, bilateral relations should be considered for the removal of the offending monuments.
“Therefore, this can be solved by talking to the nations that erected [the monuments] and taking them down with their cooperation,” he wrote, adding that he had asked the Foreign Ministry, President’s Office, the Addu City Council and police to discuss the matter with the embassies.
In his interview with MNBC One, Bari said that citizens taking the law into their own hands was not the solution.
In an earlier post on his website, Bari revealed that he had suggested to the Pakistani High Commissioner that the “peaceful and proper way” to resolve the issue was for Pakistan to remove the monument.
The High Commissioner had assured him that Pakistan would do so after the summit was over, Bari wrote.
Bari has maintained that the engravings of pagan symbols on the Pakistani monument are unlawful under the Contraband Act, Religious Unity Act and the Anti-Social Behaviour Act, and should not be displayed publicly in the Maldives.
Meanwhile, the door to a cupboard containing a sound system in a mosque was reported vandalised.
Abdulla Sodiq, Mayor of Addu City, disputed that the mosque had been damaged in retaliation for damage to Sri Lanka’s lion statue, as claimed by Bari.
”I heard the media reports and sought clarification on the incident, and found out that the door to the cupboard containing the mosque’s sound system was damaged with the intention of stealing the microphone and sound system,” he said. ”It is very common in all parts of the Maldives.”
He claimed Dr Bari may have related the two incidents because he had been misled by whomever he had received the information from.
The SAARC monument was damaged on Thursday morning around 1:00-2:00am, Sodiq said, with the face of the statue being smashed.
He said that the lion was the national symbol of Sri Lanka and was not an idol of worship. Police are investigating both incidents.
Deputy Sri Lankan High Commissioner Shaanthi Sudusinghe meanwhile told Minivan News that the Maldivian government had said it would repair and relocate the monuments from Addu City to the convention centre, where they could be given security.
“There is not much we can do,” she said. “This was a gift to the Maldives and it is up to them to look after it. If it is repaired and relocated we will be satisfied.”