Controversial Dutch convert to give religious lecture in the Maldives

Controversial Dutch convert Arnoud van Doorn, one of the people associated with distributing the anti-Islamic short film ‘Fitna’ is due to give a religious lecture in the Maldives, Minister of Islamic Affairs Dr Mohamed Shaheem has revealed

Van Doorn was formerly a politician with the far-right Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) and had assisted PVV leader Geert Wilders in distributing the short film ‘Fitna’, which argues that Islam promotes terrorism, anti-Semitism, and violence against women.

The film received international condemnation, being branded anti-Islamic by a number of organisations including the Muslim World League and the United Nations.

Speaking to Minivan News, Shaheem said today that van Doorn is due to give a lecture on his conversion to Islam sometime during this year, adding that “a man’s past cannot be questioned after he converts to Islam”.

Meanwhile, van Doorn tweeted his gratitude towards Dr Shaheem for the invitation.

Van Doorn – who now serves as the President of European Dawah Foundation – converted to Islam in 2013, performing the Hajj pilgrimage shortly afterwards. He has also apologised for his attempts at spreading hatred against Islam.

Meanwhile, Shaheem tweeted last week (January 2) that the majority of religious speakers invited to give out public sermons during 2015 would be brought in from Western countries.

Shaheem told Minivan News that such a decision was made because a lot of the Islam related issues are also prevalent in Western countries and because the “western scholars encourage practicing moderate Islam”.

Yesterday (January 3), US Islamic scholar Yasir Qadhi announced he will be visiting the Maldives, with the Islamic ministry confirming that he will be both lecturing and delivering the Friday sermon during March.

“I will be coming down to your beautiful islands in a few months insha Allah! I will be delivering some lectures in Male and giving the khutbah,” explained the Saudi-trained scholar via his Facebook page.

Qadhi – currently teaching in Memphis, Tennessee – has been described by the New York Times as “one of the most influential conservative clerics in American Islam”.

Recent months have also seen Canadian scholar Dr Bilal Phillips and Turkish author Harun Yahya travel to the Indian Ocean archipelago to deliver religious lectures.

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Dutch ambassador departs, Italian ambassador arrives

Ambassador of the Netherlands to the Maldives Leoni Cuelenaere is departing the Maldives while the new Ambassador of Italy accredited to the Maldives Fabrizio Pio Arpen Am presented his credentials to the President yesterday.

In a farewell meeting with Cuelenaere President Mohamed Nasheed expressed his gratitude for the work done by the Dutch Ambassador and highlighted major joint ventures between the government and the Maldives, including Royal Boskalis Westminster and Dutch Docklands. Cuelenaere in response praised Nasheed’s initiative to open up the Maldivian economy and strengthen democratic institutions.

Meanwhile, the new Italian Ambassador Fabrizio Pio Arpea presented his credentials to the President, and spoke about the proposed trip of 20 Italian students to the outpost of the University of Milano-Bicocca in the Maldives.

Arpea reiterated the importance of the ongoing business engagements between the two countries, especially in tourism – Italy is historically one of the Maldives’ strongest European markets.


President Nasheed sends condolences after Tripoli plane crash

President Mohamed Nasheed sent his condolences to Libyan leader Muammar Al-Qadhafi and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands following the plane crash in Tripoli last Sunday.

The Afriqiyah Ariways flight, on route to Libya from South Africa, crashed near the Libyan capital and was carrying mostly Dutch tourists.

The only survivor was a nine year-old Dutch boy.

President Nasheed sent his sympathies to all the families who lost loved ones in the crash as well as the two countries.