Monday, October 1, 2007
Maldives were 'warned of Islamic danger'
The Government of the Maldives had received explicit warnings of the dangers of rising Islamic fundamentalism but failed to take action to address the issue, the country's former attorney-general told The Daily Telegraph.
Dr Hassan Saeed, who resigned his position last month in protest at Government policies on the issue, said the Maldives government had received a detailed action plan to combat Islamist extremism but had "sat on its hands".
"The action plan was submitted to the President and the government seven months ago but they failed to take any measures to address the issue of extremism. They've just sat on the report," he said from the capital, Male.
Two men were arrested yesterday in connection with the attacks. Local sources said they were "jewellery repairmen" who had been linked to the mobile telephone used to trigger the blast.
The attack, using a home-made device constructed from the telephone and a washing machine motor, has realised the worst fears of many Maldivians who have watched the traditionally moderate Sunni Muslim country grow increasingly radicalised.
"The change in the Maldives has really been quite scary over the last three or four years," said Jennifer Latheef, a local human rights activist. "The number of women wearing the veil has risen dramatically."
Dr Saeed said the growing sway of fundamentalist clerics in the Maldives had coincided with moves to introduce democracy into the islands following demonstrations against President Gayoom in 2003.
"A growing number of Maldivian students are going to study in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan where they are learning a radical Wahhabi interpretation of Islam."