Government will not allow religion to be used as a weapon for political purposes: Home Minister

Council members of the minority opposition Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) questioned by police were unable to substantiate “slanderous allegations” that the government was working with “Jews and Christian priests” to undermine Islam in the Maldives, Home Minister Hassan Afeef said today.

Briefing press at the police headquarters, Afeef criticised Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and ‘Sandhaanu’ Ahmed Ibrahim Didi for exercising the right to remain silent when they were summoned for a second time last night and challenged the DQP leaders to point out or provide evidence of “the government’s efforts to wipe out Islam.”

“Where is that priest? Where is the money that priest gave? When was it given? Which account was it deposited to?” Afeef asked.

Dr Jameel told police interrogators that his claims were based on “rumours circulating in the island,” Afeef revealed, criticising the former Justice Minister for not realising the gravity of the allegations when repeating it without proof.

Sandhaanu Didi’s statement to police was meanwhile “useless chatter” claiming the President was “a madman and a Christian,” he added.

“We cannot allow such claims to cause unrest among the public, incite hatred towards the government and lead to discord,” Afeef asserted.

He reiterated that opposition leaders had a responsibility to substantiate “atrocious” allegations that the MDP government was intent on “wiping away Islam” to introduce religious freedom and the practice of other religions.

“This government will not allow anyone to use religion as a weapon for political purposes,” he continued. “Therefore, I would like to remind [journalists] that these actions are an atrocity. The government is not going to allow such atrocities to be committed. I urge you to be mindful of this when the media reports such news.”

Afeef also suggested that the Media Council and Maldives Broadcasting Commission were failing to fulfill their mandate by not objecting to religiously-based allegations by opposition politicians on privately-owned media outlets.

Asked why the police were not investigating cases filed by the opposition against President Mohamed Nasheed, Afeef insisted that the complaints were “baseless” and that police “would investigate if there was any truth to it.”

Among the cases filed with police include a request by PPM Deputy Leader Umar Naseer to investigate President Nasheed’s remarks allegedly “encouraging drug use”.

Calling for compassion towards heroin addicts, Nasheed said in June 2011: “When we don’t provide care for them, they take off with the box cutter and steal money from the mother’s drawers. [They] need it. They need to use. They must use. We have to come to know and understand this. We shouldn’t try talking about this politically or with the intention of hiding behind a nice veil, without using the real terms and words.”

The falsehood of such claims by Umar Naseer and others was evident and “clear as night and day,” Afeef argued.

Asked about DQP’s request for police to investigate President Nasheed’s claims to foreign media that islands in the Maldives were sinking, Afeef said the President was referring to beach erosion in recent interviews and not submersion by sea level rise.

DQP also requested police investigate Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair for allegedly “threatening the media.”

Meanwhile, according to his twitter page, Dr Jameel revealed that he and Sandhaanu Didi have been summoned to the police station tonight for a third time.

The pair were questioned by police for a second time Saturday night, but both exercised the right to remain silent. After the initial interrogation Thursday night, Did was detained for almost 24 hours and released around 7:00pm Friday night.

Sandhaanu Didi appeared outside the police headquarters with a mask and fins last night, explaining that he had cooperated with police for 30 minutes on Thursday night and intended to “go snorkeling with the police boys tonight.”