Police confiscate potentially ‘idolatrous’ stone statue from ibay

Police have confiscated an engraved stone statue put up for sale on local online auction website www.ibay.com.mv following complaints that the item could be an “idol of worship”.

A police media official confirmed to newspaper Haveeru that police seized the statue following reports from members of the public.

Police were determining whether the statue was “an object of worship,” the media official explained. If the statue was found not to be an “idol,” he said, it would be returned to its owner.

The owner, Hassan Jinah, meanwhile told the local daily that similar stone statues could be found in local shops.


Islanders protest as President arrives on Filladhoo

Islanders of Filladhoo in Haa Alifu Atoll gathered at the beach yesterday upon President Mohamed Nasheed’s arrival on the island to protest the current government’s religious policy.

President of Filladhoo Council Mohamed Vijaan told Minivan News that the protesters conducted the protest to express their opinion from the time President arrived until he left the island.

“I do not know which party they represented or the amount of protesters,’’ Vijaan said. ‘’They were protesting against placement of ‘idols’ in Addu and demanding to give the money that Filladhoo is waiting to receive from the money foreign countries gave in aid to the country following the 2004 December tsunami.’’

Vijaan said the money was granted to the Maldives during the time of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

‘’Due to a court ruling the money was not given to Filladhoo, and this government said they would appeal the case at the High Court but after that there was no news of it,’’ Vijaan said, adding that 110 houses in Filladhoo were destroyed by the tsunami.

He said President Nasheed arrived to the island at 12:20pm and left at 3:30pm yesterday. The protesters protested until his departure.

Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair said that it was not a protest but a group of people expressing their opinion.

‘’There was no unrest,’’ Zuhair said. ‘’It was this government that introduced freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.’’

According to the President’s Office the President met with Island Councils of Filladhoo and exchanged views with the Council members on proposed development projects for the islands.

‘’He also called for the support of the Island Councils in executing government policies,’’ read a statement on the President’s Office website.


Sri Lankan SAARC monument vandalised as PPM file case over import of ‘idols’

The SAARC monument designed and gifted to the Maldives by the Sri Lankan government, has been doused with crude oil.

The lion statue, representing the national symbol of Sri Lanka, was vandalised last night following the toppling, burning and theft of the Pakistani monument, which protesters had claimed was idolatrous.

Council Member of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), Ahmed ‘Marz’ Saleem, meanwhile today filed a case with police against the Maldives Customs Department for allowing  ‘idols’ to be imported to the Maldives for the SAARC Summit.

The PPM is the party founded by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, following its acrimonious split with the major opposition party, the Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP).

Speaking to Minivan News today, Saleem said that four acts in the Maldives banned the importation of idols, and that the Customs Department should be held responsible for letting the statues be imported into the country.

”It violates the Police Act, Customs Act, Contraband Act and the Religious Unity Act,” he contested.

“I reported the case to the police because it is a criminal offence which has to be investigated by police and sent to the Prosecutor General, to be taken to court according to Maldivian law,” Saleem said. ”We looked into the matter of these idols and found out that these things were not made here, which means they much have been imported from somewhere else.”

He said that displaying the items in public “is another offence. Citizens who love the religion of Islam will not allow such items to kept in public, and will seek to destroy them.”

”Police will have no lawful authority to stop citizens from destroying the idols, because they are illegal and against Islam,” he said, adding that the PPM has filed a second case in the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) demanding investigation of whoever gave orders for police to defend the monuments when citizens went out to destroy them.

”We requested the PIC investigate and find out who exactly gave the orders, who implemented the orders, and to take action against them,” he said.

He also alleged that the current government was attempting “to erase Islam from the country.”

”The current government dissolved the Quran Department, Arabiyya School and women’s mosques, all to erase the religion of Islam,” Saleem alleged.

Spokesperson for the Customs Department, Mohamed Ibrahim, did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam meanwhile confirmed that a case against the Customs Department was filed with police.