Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chairperson Ali Waheed has suggested that the government’s contradictory religious policies are damaging the nation.
“While the Maldives is celebrating its adherence to Islam, the religious structure of the government is as such – from the right, shows being organised,” said Waheed. “From the left, religious lectures are being convened.”
Waheed’s comments – referring to the New Year’s ‘Tourist Arrival Countdown’ music shows and the Islamic ministry’s ‘The Message’ lecture series – came at the conclusion of a party rally in the capital Malé yesterday.
Later in the day, in the first of ‘The Message’ lectures, Sheikh Adam Shameem condemned the tourism promotion concerts, which were organised and promoted by tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb.
Drugs, sex, and rock and roll will destroy the nation, argued Shameem, suggesting that the government’s role was to lead the youth away from shameful deeds, but that such sinful activities were irresistible when handed down to them “on a platter”.
“What will happen when [they organize] sinful activities and invite the youth? Then, youth cannot be stopped,” he told approximately 1,500 attendees at the Alimas Carnival area in Malé.
While the government later denounced the threat as a “hoax” designed to create an atmosphere of fear, religious groups united in condemnation of the event.
Islamic NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf called on the government cancel the concert, while Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed described the invitation of foreign performers for such shows as “unnacceptable”.
Minister for tourism Adeeb later explained that the Islamic minister’s words were his own personal opinion, and that the concert had been discussed at cabinet level.
The Islamic minister’s own Adhaalath Party subsequently expressed concern at what it described as “horrifying acts that defy Islamic teachings and social convention” taking place in the country.
After Sean Paul’s cancellation, Indian duo Salim and Sulaiman Merchant appeared on December 31, before a second concert was arranged featuring US R&B singer Akon on January 8. Akon himself had previously cancelled a 2010 show in the Maldives after opposition from religious groups.
Sheikh Shameem yesterday described Akon – a practising Muslim – as an “infidel negro”, expressing disappointment than more young persons had attended the music shows rather than attending Ishaa prayers.
Sheikh Shameem first came to public attention following his ‘mega-lecture’ ‘Andalus‘, during the 2013 presidential elections.
Live broadcasts of this lecture were interrupted by authorities for violating state broadcaster’s guideline, while the MDP condemned the lecture accusing Shameem of inciting hatred in order to sway the electorate. More recently, he was invited to speak to police during the celebration of Martyr’s Day last year.
Yesterday’s sermon was titled ‘Our Responsibilities towards the Nation’. The lecture series will also feature Dutch convert Arnoud Van Doorn on February 20.
President Abdulla Yameen – who last night attended to opening of the Maldives’ first fully solar powered resort, Club Med Finolhu Villa – marked the celebration of the country’s conversion to Islam by telling citizens to be wary of outside influences that could weaken the Islamic faith, reported Sun Online.
At the opening of the new resort, Yameen said that it was a combination of tourism and Islam that had taught Maldivians to co-exist with different cultures.
During yesterday’s MDP rally, both Ali Waheed and former President Mohamed Nasheed vowed to change Yameen’s government, with the latter suggesting the country’s troubles’ were partly caused by divisions between Yameen and former President and Progressive Party of Maldives leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
When calling for all-party talks last week, Nasheed made special mention of the former thirty-year ruler.
“I urge President Yameen to hold discussions with President Maumoon, Honourable Gasim, even us and leaders of Adhaalath Party. Also to move away from actions that will push Maldives into chaos,” said Nasheed on Thursday (January 22).
Yesterday’s ‘Maldivians stand to defend the Constitution’ rally saw over more than 1000 people march around the southern half of the capital to protest a series of decisions by the government and the Supreme Court which have been questioned on constitutional grounds.
*The original version of this article incorrectly translated Sheikh Shameem as describing Akon as an “infidel nigger”.
Minivan News would like to apologise for this error and will endeavour to make sure this type of error is not repeated.
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