Male, Feb 11(ANI): The emergence of hard-line Islam in the Maldives, a relatively new development for the country, has sparked off concerns in India that it could be used as a potential base for Islamist militants.
Hard-line Islamism is increasing in the political scene in the Maldives and has played a role in the overthrow of the democratically elected government, The Wall Street Journal reports.
It also raises questions about the stability of the Maldives, which is located on a strategically important sea route used for transporting a large portion of the world's crude oil, the paper said.
The rise of conservative Islam in the Maldives could also affect the tourism industry, as the development of spas and bars in the country has angered some Islamist leaders, it added.
"There are some fringe religious extremist elements and we hope the radicalism doesn't hamper the Maldives' image as a tourist destination," it quoted an Indian government official said.
According to the paper, Islamists calling for jihad played a significant role in anti-government protests against President Mohamed Nasheed leading to his resignation from office.
Nasheed's government was dealt a severe blow with exit of the Adhaalath Party, a local Islamist group from the coalition government, in protest against the government's decision to allow an Israeli airline to land in the Maldives.
The Maldives' new Home Minister Mohamed Jameel had issued a pamphlet in the local language entitled, "President Nasheed's Devious Plot to Destroy the Islamic Faith of Maldivians," according to a translation reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
The pamphlet claimed that empty bottles of alcohol, which is proscribed for Maldivians, were found in offices of Nasheed's government.
Ahmed Naseem, the country's recently ousted foreign minister had faced opposition at home when he became the first Maldivian official to visit Israel.
Naseem claimed that around 40 Maldivians were known to have forged links with the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. (ANI)
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