People’s Alliance (PA) Leader and MP Abdulla Yameen has claimed that the senior officials of the government are “not very religious”, during a rally to celebrate the day the Maldives embraced Islam.
Secretary General of the PA, Ahmed Shareef, also claimed the government was not interested in religion and had done “many things to weaken Islam in the country.”
”Last year during Ramadan the government allowed non-muslims to eat in day time,” Shareef said,”and they disbanded women’s mosques.”
He said the government had also dismissed many Imams from their position, “and gave away the land belonging to the Kulliyathu Dhiraasathul Islamiyya school,” he added, when it was brought under the Maldives College of Higher Education.
”They also discussed the building of temples in the country and selling alcohol on inhabited islands,” he said.
Press Secretary for the President’s Office Mohamed Zuhair said the claims were untrue.
”The government has done many things to strengthen and protect Islam in the country,” Zuhair said.
He said the government’s policy was to leave all the religious issues to Islamic scholars.
”As we are not religious scholars we always leave religious issues to the religious scholars,” he said, pointing to new freedoms given to scholars.
“Yameen is not a religious scholar,” he added.
Spokesperson for Maldivian Democratic Party MDP Ahmed Haleem said the government had always tried to protect Islam in the Maldives.
”It’s a fact that the government has never arrested a religious scholar, unlike the former government,” Haleem said.
Haleem claimed the former government arrested more than 20 religious scholars after their sermons.
”I never knew that Abdulla Yameen was so religious,” Haleem said. “Maybe in the future we will see him at the mosque with a long beard and short trousers.”
Sheikh Abdulla Jameel said in his view Islam in the Maldives “has become very strong”, particularly among young people “who are now very interested in Islam.”
”I have noted that the number of people going to the mosques has also raised,” he said.
He said he believed this had happening because the government’s efforts to promote the role of religion in people’s hearts.
”The new government allows scholars to give sermons as they wish,” he said.
President of Islamic NGO Jamiyyath-al-Salaf, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohamed Ibrahim, said the group did not wish to comment on issue.