Yameen win in Maldives polls raises fears of return of hardline Islamhttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/yameen-win-in-maldives-polls-raises-fears-of-return-of-hardline-islam/

Yameen win in Maldives polls raises fears of return of hardline Islam

Hardline Islamist groups like the AP,which control the Ministry of Islamic Affairs,have been calling for strict implementation of the Sharia’a.

Liberal Maldivians voiced concerns that the victory of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) in the elections would hasten an already noticeable shift from the moderate Sunni Islam practiced in the Maldives to religious conservatism and xenophobia,that has been growing. The party is backed by the conservative Adhaalath Party (AP),and new President Abdulla Yameen fought the elections on a promise to preserve the Islamic faith. Hardline Islamist groups like the AP,which control the Ministry of Islamic Affairs,have been calling for strict implementation of the Sharia’a.

“Our prime worry is that the new government will only worsen the problems we are facing with increasing Islamic radicalism,” said a senior MDP member.

“There have also been statements hailing the fact that the First Lady is the first one to wear a headscarf. A large number of modern and liberal Maldivian women fear that soon,it might be made compulsory for them to wear a full veil. There are also worries that women will not be allowed to pursue higher education,and there are cases of this happening,” Azra Naseem,a Maldivian author and academic,said.

Last month,the National Bureau of Classification in Maldives banned the song God Allah Aur Bhagwan from the Hrithik Roshan starrer Krrish 3,calling it anti-Islamic. It banned the import,sale and broadcast of the song in the Maldives,which has a large Bollywood fan base.

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Fundamentalist forces reportedly attempted to destroy a bronze Ashoka pillar gifted by India in Addu Atoll following Nasheed’s ouster from power,and SAARC monument and Buddhist idols there were damaged.

Increasing radicalism in the Maldives has been a cause of worry for India,especially with arrests of Maldivian youth who were being trained by terror outfits such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The leader of the Islamic Foundation of Maldives,a religious conservative NGO that has ties to Islamist political parties,is incidentally a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner named Ibrahim Fauzee who was arrested from a suspected Al Qaeda safehouse in Karachi in May 2002.