A video has appeared online threatening dancehall singer Sean Paul with death should he visit the Maldives for a New Year’s Eve concert.
“‘Sean Paul’!!! If you visit the Maldives, the world will see your burnt and blood drenched dead body,” read cards held by a cloaked figure in the video posted on Youtube late last night (December 25).
Tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb, has responded to the threat this afternoon, stating in a tweet that the concert will go ahead as planned. Meanwhile Islamic minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed has that that both bringing foreigners to perform new year’s concerts, and the issuing of death threats were both “unacceptable”.
Adeeb informed media late last month that the Jamaican artist would be appearing in a free concert in the capital Malé as part of the government’s tourism promotion efforts.
Last night’s video bears the logo of ‘Bilad Al Sham Media’ (BASM) group – an organisation which claims to consist of Maldivian jihadis based in Syria and the Maldives.
Through social media, the group has reported the deaths of five Maldivians in the Syrian civil war this year, as well as taunting the police’s efforts to locate its members.
BASM has, however, posted a statement on its official Facebook page distancing itself from the video.
“We suspect that the video was released by MDP supporters/secularists or other such anti Islamic elements who have been pushing hard to potray [sic] a threat to the Maldives which in reality does not exist, and their mouth piece Minivan News is also pushing the same lies and has been the first to report on this video.”
BASM did, however condemn the concert as “filthy” and “part of the ideological attack being waged by the kuffar and their allies on the Muslim youth to take them further from their Deen.”
Minivan News was the first outlet to report on the story in English, after a number of outlets had published news of the video in Dhivehi.
“It is for all Muslim to jihad in the name of Allah. Hence disbelievers like ‘Sean Paul’, who are like the worst of devil’s advocates, deserve nothing but death!” continued yesterday’s video threat.
“‘Sean Paul’ who is joining from abroad in the celebration of year-end 2014, end [sic] the beginning of 2015, is a major disbeliever,” came the message, printed on cards in Dhivehi, with English subtitles.
The figure, whose face and hands are covered sits in front of a black flag which has become synonymous with the Islamic State militant group, ISIS.
“We will not welcome or tolerate the destruction of such cunning men anymore.”
“Even the government will not be excused for bringing such cunning disbeliever to our soil, because our beloved nation is 100% Muslim!”
Tourism minister Adeeb has condemned the video, saying that the government would not give in to threats.
We will not give into threats! The show wil go on, it is sad to see the level ppl fall, every time we try to promote Maldives & Youth!!
— Ahmed Adeeb (@Ahmed_Adeeb) December 26, 2014
The last major western artist to perform in the capital was Irish singer Chris De Burgh in 2012. Prior to this, a concert featuring R&B singer Akon in 2010 was cancelled, with the event’s managers citing technical and security concerns.
In the run-up to the scheduled Akon concert, the Islamic minister Dr Shaheem reported receiving a number of complaints about the explicit content of the singer’s lyrics.
Today, Shaheem has commented on the threat via twitter, saying: “Bringing foreigners to hold shows coinciding with the New Year is unacceptable. Issuing death threats is also unacceptable.”
“Lessons have to be learnt from the past of those who committed acts challenging the Muslim culture,” read a second tweet.
Yesterday’s Youtube message suggested that Maldivian society was being led to destruction through “beautiful painted pictures, songs and entertainment”, decrying what it saw as the celebration of western festivals such as New Year and Valentine’s Day.
“Mixing such festivities into our culture will result in a destructive future for the Maldives and our beloved children.”
Earlier this week, the religious Adhaalath Party was reported as urging Maldivians to avoid celebrating Christmas.
November and December have traditionally represented the high season for the Maldives’ dominant tourism industry, with tourists celebrating Christmas and New Year in the archipelago’s 109 single island resorts, on which the country’s Shariah-based laws do not apply.
The online threat concluded by suggesting that those who saw the group’s actions as “extremism” are demonstrating the weakness of their faith.
Concern regarding religious extremism in the country has grown this year, with a number of Maldivians reported to have travelled to IS held territory – sometimes with family members.
Despite the government’s condemnation of the Islamic State’s atrocities, around 200 individuals marched through the capital in September, brandishing black IS-style flags and calling for the implementation of full Shariah law in the Indian Ocean nation.
Authorities arrested unauthorised Imam Hussain Thowfiq in October before sentencing him to two years in prison for leading extremist anti-government sermons in Malé’s Dharumavantha mosque.
Prior to this, former police officers and opposition politicians had questioned the capacity and desire or authorities to prosecute such activities.
Police spokesmen reported that they were investigating the video, but had found “nothing authentic”, urging calm.
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