A GESTURE of goodwill went horribly wrong after Muslim zealots decided that a monument Pakistan gifted to the people of the Maldives was “idolatrous”.
It was erected in November in the city of Hithadhoo to mark a South Asian summit in the Indian Ocean archipelago of 300,000 Muslims.
A group of hotheads objected to the thing – not because it was a monumental eyesore, but because it “depicted irreligious graphic content”. So they torched it.
A Sri Lankan lion was also vandalised.
Describing the acts of desecration as “crazy”, this blogger said:
No one is going to worship a stack of books from Pakistan or a Sri Lankan lion. Please consider it a national paperweight. Just to keep your topsoil down.
Meanwhile, a council member of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has lodged a complaint with police over “importing and keeping idols”.
Speaking to journalists after submitting his complaint, Maz Saleem said the police were asked to look into how the “idols” were imported into the Maldives through Customs, and how come police were “standing guard” around the “idols”.
Another PPM Council member, Ilham Ahmed said Customs failed to carry out its legal responsibility of preventing the import of items such as “idols” into the country.
I believe that the Maldives Police Service will thoroughly investigate the matter for the sake of the people, the religion of Islam and the constitution …
Meanwhile, it is reported here that on Friday thousands in the Maldives called on the government to halt what they called “anti-Islamic” activities, including a plan to allow direct flights to Israel.
The protesters want authorities to stop the sale of alcohol in the islands, shut down brothels operating in the guise of massage parlours and demolish what’s left of “idolatrous” monuments gifted by countries for the summit.
Though the country is known more for its exquisite island resorts and does not allow stoning or executions, it is under scrutiny for its absence of religious freedom and for punishments such as public flogging.
Khilath Rasheed, a local blogger who called for religious tolerance, has been detained for more than a week by authorities who accuse him of blasphemy and of promoting anti-Islamic concepts such as gay rights.
Rasheed, whose website was blocked last month, said he was being victimised because he belonged to the Sufi sect of Islam and not the majority Sunni branch recognized by the authorities.
London-based human rights group Amnesty International has called for his immediate release.