Over MVR300,000 (US$19,455) has been donated in the first two days to a “Gaza Fund” set up by the religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) to provide financial assistance to Palestinians affected by the ongoing Israeli aggression.
According to the party, a total of MVR317,364.60 and US$1,346 has been collected as of yesterday (July 19).
Fund boxes have been placed across the capital Malé in mosques and other locations, including the artificial beach and the tsunami memorial area, as well as in Vilimalé and Hulhumalé.
The fund was launched by Maldives national football team midfielder Mohamed Arif and former captain Assad Abdul Gani at a ceremony last week.
Adhaalath Party Spokesperson Imran Zahir said at the ceremony that 11 NGOs were participating in the fund raising activities while a bank account for donations would be set up at the Islamic Bank.
Zahir said donations would be counted in the presence of the media and that the proceeds would not be used for management purposes.
Meanwhile, the Qatari Red Crescent offered last Thursday (July 17) to ensure that the funds reach its intended recipients.
In a letter to AP President Sheikh Imran Abdulla, Qatar Red Crescent Secretary General Saleh Bin Ali Al-Muhanadi said that the humanitarian organisation could ensure that the funds reach the people of Gaza in the form of food and medicine.
The arrangements could be made through its extensive relief efforts in Gaza, he said.
“We note that we have had a very fruitful partnership with Adaalath Party in two previous projects; namely Gaza Fund and PK Fund, in which we channelled the funds that were raised in Maldives to the people of Gaza and Pakistan respectively,” the letter read.
In early 2009, 25 Maldivian charities raised US$100,000 for humanitarian projects in Gaza in the wake of an Israeli military offensive in December 2008.
The previous Gaza fund raised MVR1.2 million (US$100,834) between January 9 and February 8, 2009.
Last week, thousands of Maldivians joined a protest march in the capital against the Israeli offensive in Gaza.
Meanwhile, a heated exchange took place on social media last week between Islamic Minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed and former President Mohamed Nasheed after the latter suggested that it would be “unwise” to donate to the AP fund while details of expenditure out of a “Mosque Fund” set up by the Islamic Ministry remained unclear.
Shaheem responded angrily claiming that details of expenditure were shared with the People’s Majlis and the media, implying that Nasheed had left the country to avoid participating in a rally by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) on July 12.
“Nasheed cannot tolerate any action against the Jews in Maldives,” the Islamic Minister tweeted.
In response, the opposition leader accused Shaheem of lying and explained that he had flown overseas on July 7 to seek “emergency” medical treatment for his wife in Singapore, three days before the MDP’s national council passed a resolution to hold a protest march.
MDP MP Eva Abdulla meanwhile tweeted, “[President Nasheed] is with his wife who just underwent a surgery. How much evil do you need to spread, in this holy month?”
According to figures publicised by the Islamic Ministry, a total of MVR21.5 million (US$1.3 million) was donated to the mosque fund, out of which and spent MVR14.9 million (US$966,278) as of July 2013.
The opposition party’s national council organised a protest march after Nasheed – currently the party’s acting president – called on “all human rights defenders” to raise their voices “against the indiscriminate killings in Gaza.”
In a tweet four days later, Nasheed referred to 12 Maldivians leaving for Ceylon to fight in the neighbouring country’s defence in 1943 and suggested that there was “no reason that an MNDF [Maldivian National Defence Force] brigade should not go in defence of Gaza.”
On Friday (July 18), Nasheed contended that the current administration could not “care for Gaza” and asked the MDP to take the initiative to organise “a human shield” for resistance in Gaza.