Politics Society & Culture

Ruling party hits out at Nasheed, NGO chief in religion row

Authorities must investigate those who speak out against religion, the Maldives’ ruling party has said, condemning former president Mohamed Nasheed for his defence of an NGO chief at the centre of a religion row and criticising opposition leaders for their silence.

Shahindha Ismail, executive director of the Maldivian Democracy Network, has been under fire for saying that Allah allowed for other faiths in response to President Abdulla Yameen asserting he would only permit Islam to be practiced in the Maldives.

On Friday Nasheed tweeted: “Attacks on civil society defenders by self-appointed sheikhs is the clear manifestation of “State within the State” of #Maldives.”

The ruling PPM Saturday condemned “a former president” for “defending and encouraging Shahindha Ismail.”

The party, while refusing to name Nasheed, went on to say: “A former president has criticized Islamic scholars and encouraged someone who has expressed opinions opposing Islam. He has said that Shahindha works for ordinary citizens rights, and civil society defenders are targeted by Islamic scholars and sheikhs.

“Additionally, this person who has been a former president has worked to support anyone against religion to encourage them.

“We are greatly concerned that opposition leaders have remained silent while a former president is saying such things that are against religion,” the PPM added, saying their silence was a sign they were “encouraging the work by the former president.”

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