The parliament has approved the reappointment of Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari as Minister for Islamic Affairs, in a narrow vote 38 in favour 35 against.
Dr Bari was first appointed to the position under a coalition agreement made between the government and the religious Adhaalath Party, resigned on the party’s request after it made the decision to break the agreement t over the government’s religious policy.
Opposition parties have earlier said their MPs in the parliament would not vote in favor of Dr Bari and that he would be dismissed. A parliament committee that looked into the issue has meanwhile dismissed his reappointment and will submit a report on the matter.
Adhaalath made a further move today to sever its connection with the government, dismissing its former President and current State Islamic Minister Sheikh Hussein Rasheed. Sheikh Hussein had been also asked to resign by the party following its split with the MDP, but had elected to remain in the government.
Speaking to Minivan News, Sheikh Hussein said that he had received a letter from the Adhaalath Party yesterday informing him that he had been dismissed from the party for acting against the party’s ideas.
”The people will know the work I have done for Adhaalath Party,” he said. “When the party was first established there was no one that had the courage to take the lead so I did. No one had the courage to go and take the party registration form but I went and took it,” Sheikh Rasheed explained. ”That was the time when the former President and scholars were under great influence and threat of being imprisoned.”
Now, he said, the party was under the influence of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
Sheikh Hussein said the VTV television station, owned by opposition-aligned MP and tourism tycoon Gasim Ibrahim, had reported his dismissal from the Adhaalath Party before the decision had even been taken by the disciplinary committee.
He said that when the party asked him to resign from his position, he only told the party his view on the matter.
“Dr Bari and I are working independently in the Ministry, free from influence,” he said. ”If I If I have violated any regulations there will be actions taken, but the party’s Disciplinary Committee needs to be investigated first.”
”We created the party with a very good intention. It was to go forward with the country and citizens and to serve the religion. But that is not the direction in which that party is moving now,” he said.
Sheikh Hussein said he had not yet decided to join another party, and was currently awaiting word from the Elections Commission on the matter.
Dr Bari and President of Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.
Government stands up
President Mohamed Nasheed has meanwhile defended Islam and Maldivian culture and traditions, ahead of an opposition-backed religious protest on December 23. The website promoting the protest briefly called for the “slaughter” of “anyone against Islam”, slogans which were subsequently removed and blamed on a “technical mistake”, “hackers” and later, “intelligence officials”.
Nasheed has claimed that religious protesters are trying to implement Islamic Sharia penalties such as stoning, amputation and execution – penalties which have traditionally been pardoned by the Maldivian judicial system.
Speaking at a rally held on Saturday evening, Nasheed defended traditional cultural practices such as playing and listening to music and the role of women in society, noting that “women have been in the Maldivian workforce as long as men.”
He called on political parties to publicly state which form of Islam they supported: “the Islam we have been practicing in this country for several hundred years, or a new faction of Islam.”