The media is reporting that the police reinforcements on Himandhoo in their seige of the breakaway mosque has been further strengthened with men from the Maldives National Defense Forces or the Army.
I remember that the last time, we had Maldivian converts to Christianity the President met them to impress upon them the importance of remaining as Muslims. Several other initiatives were taken to mainstream those converts and the nation as a whole sympathized with those “gone astray”.
Himandhoo, too in a way is a large portion of a community “gone astray”. I believe that mechanisms to eliminate the extremist and terrorist roots from the island should be backed by similar strategies to bring back those Maldivians into the mainstream religous belief and faith rather than make them outcasts.
While the Police, and the MNDF (quietly behind the scenes) seem to be tackling the investigation issue, other agencies responsible for attending to the matter are visible only by their “sheer non-existence”. The main culprit is the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, who has always tended to believe that the Islamic faith in the true sense could be sustained through the stereotyped preaching at the Friday Prayers and the adhoc preaching missions they make to the outer islands.
If we are to come out of the mess we have gotten ourselves into, it is critical that the government should make the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, more responsive to the times, and engage with the youth and religous extremism at a strategic and intellectual level. Today, it is not enough to tell our people that we are all Muslims and we must practise Islam because it is our religion. That was possible nine hundred years ago; but not in this day and age.
However, if the past is anything to go by, we will have forgotten the Sultan Park Explosion in a month’s time and we will be enjoying the paradise we cherish so much.