MALE — On Tuesday, as protesters backed by mutinous police toppled president Mohamed Nasheed, a handful of men stormed the Chinese-built museum and destroyed its display of priceless artefacts from the nation's pre-Islamic era.Further details at the link, and in a Reddit thread.
"They have effectively erased all evidence of our Buddhist past," a senior museum official told AFP at the now shuttered building in the capital Male, asking not to be named out of fear for his own safety.
"We lost all our 12th century statues. They were made of coral stone and limestone. They are very brittle and there is no way we can restore them," he explained. "I wept when I heard that the entire display had gone. We are good Muslims and we treated these statues only as part of our heritage. It is not against Islam to display these exhibits," he said...
The Maldives, a collection of more than 1,100 coral-fringed islands surrounded by turquoise seas, is known as a "paradise" holiday destination that draws hundreds of thousands of travellers and honeymooners each year.
Visitors' contact with the local population is deliberately kept at bay, however, with most foreigners simply transferring from the main international airport directly to their five-star resorts on outlying islands. Few have any idea they are visiting a country of 330,000 Muslims with no religious freedom, where women can be flogged for extramarital sex and consuming alcohol is illegal for locals.
Islam is the official religion of the Maldives and open practice of any other religion is forbidden and liable to prosecution. The religious origins of the Maldivian people are not clearly established, but it is believed that a Buddhist king converted to Islam in the 12th century. Thereafter, the country practised a mostly liberal form of the religion, but more fundamentalist interpretations have spread with the arrival of money and ultra-conservative Salafist preachers from the Middle East.
13 February 2012
Islamic fundamentalists behaving badly
Last week I posted an example of Christians behaving badly, so it's only fair to note this incident in the Maldives: