Male, July 12 (Maldives Independent/newsin.asia): Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed has been condemned for calling Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, President Abdulla Yameen’s running mate in the September 23, Presidential election “an alleged recruiter for the Islamic State group.”
“President Yameen picks Shaheem – an alleged recruiter for Islamic State – as his running mate. Saudi Ambassador Bader Ali Al-Kohail endorses him. Tells you everything you need to know about Saudi support for violent extremism in the Maldives,” he had tweeted on Tuesday.
Nasheed linked Shaheem, the former Islamic minister in the Yameen government, to the Jihadi group.
Shaheem, a well known Islamic scholar, was in the Islamist Adaalath Party (AP) but subsequently joined Yameen. He will continue to be Chancellor of the Islamic University of Maldives (IUM), even he contests the election as the President feels that his Islamic expertise is needed by the IUM.
Religious scholars who endorsed Shaheem were quick to slam the opposition leader. But there were people in the opposition coalition who also criticized Nasheed.
Dr. Mohamed Iyaz Abdul Latheef, who frequently denounces the government, advised the former President to stop making false statements to discredit others because of political rivalry.
Sheikh Mohamed Aneel accused Nasheed of “blatantly lying” and praised Shaheem for his work against religious extremism.
The former Vice President of the Adhaalath Party, Mauroof Hussain, said: “One side labels political opponents as terrorist and jails them through the courts while the other side labels political opponents as IS recruiters. When will these people grow up?”
The US-based security and risk management consultancy the Soufan Group has said around 200 to 250 Maldivians are known to be fighting in Syria and Iraq, making the island nation the highest foreign fighter contributor per capita.
But the government has refuted the figures, offering various lower estimates and decrying damage to the economy due to “exaggerated” claims.
Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim reportedly underlined the harm caused when accusations are thrown at other countries during the campaign. He also said trying to link religious scholars with extremism was damaging.
“The entire coalition campaign may be harmed when some people do such things without thinking,” he said according to Mihaaru. But Gasim denied saying that Nasheed’s actions may harm the coalition.
“Gasim or JP has not said that the unity between the four-party coalition might be affected because of President Nasheed. That is a big fabricated lie. That is an atrocity to weaken our unity,” he tweeted.
Shaheem also appeared on Sun TV Tuesday night and vowed to work against religious extremism and terrorism if elected Vice President.