Complaint of Hindu practice to commemorate Addu road construction escalated to Police

Screenshot from the video showing workers from India's Afcons commencing road works in Addu City's Hithadhoo with an act of Hindu worship.

Malé, Maldives – Islamic Ministry has filed a case with Maldives Police Service against the Indian company AFCONS Infrastructure Limited for performing Hindu worship to start the road development work in Hithadhoo, Addu City.

The Islamic Ministry has said that a project in Addu City has expressed a slogan of another religion in violation of Islam and the laws and regulations Maldives and that Islamic Minister Dr Ahmed Zahir Ali had condemned their actions.

Work on the development of Hithadhoo roads was commenced by Afcons on Tuesday by breaking a coconut, which is an act of Hindu worship. A video that went viral on social media shows workers praying near a machinery used for the road works, which is followed by them breaking a coconut on the machinery.

“Anything using a religious slogan is strictly prohibited by the law and regulations to protect the religious unity of the people of Maldives,” the Islamic Ministry said.

Islamic Minister has also urged the relevant authorities to familiarize the foreigners with the laws and regulations of the country.

The ministry’s action against the Indian company AFCONS Infrastructure Limited comes hours after Spokesperson of the President’s Office Miuvan Mohamed said at a media briefing at the President’s Office that the government will not allow anything against Islam to be carried out in the island nation.

Some people are also criticizing the government for doing everything India wants stating that it is totally unacceptable and people have been outraged by the failure of the government to stop the act. 

India’s AFCONS Infrastructure Limited has also come under public criticism over the low quality of their works in the Addu road development project. Parliamentarian for Addu City Feydhoo constituency, Mohamed Nihad had raised concerns over the quality of Addu City’s road development project recently.

The Hithadhoo incident comes while three Indians were arrested in the island of Bilehdhoo, Faafu atoll over idolatry charges this September. 

According to local sources the men had handmade the idol and painted it themselves to pray and later sunk it in the sea. 

Under the Maldivian constitution non-muslims living in or visiting the country are prohibited from openly expressing their religious beliefs, holding public congregations to conduct religious activities, or involving Maldivians in such activities. By law, those expressing religious beliefs other than Islam face imprisonment of up to five years or house arrest, fines ranging from MVR 5,000 to MVR 20,000 (USD 320 – USD 1,300), and deportation.