The government is preparing to launch a long-term nationalist programme on March 1 to “promote Islamic unity and patriotism” among the youth and school children as well as the wider public.
Briefing the press Wednesday at the president’s office, Defence Minister Adam Shareef Umar said the president believes that drawing valuable lessons from the lives of both Maldivian national heroes and iconic figures in Islamic history is essential for building the next generation.
After purportedly establishing public order and undertaking numerous efforts for economic and social development, Shareef said the president’s focus now is “building youth who loves Islam, is loyal to the nation, and is ready to provide an adequate service”.
Activities aimed at youth and school children would include focus group discussions, poster drawing, essay writing competitions, dramas, and multi-media presentations, he said.
Religion has been a divisive campaign issue in the recent past with the present ruling party and its allies accusing the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party of pursuing a secularist agenda that posed an existential threat to the country’s 100 percent Muslim status.
But Shareef assured the press that the new campaign will not be “politicised.”
The programme involves raising awareness and imparting knowledge about “various Maldivian national heroes, their jihads, and the sacrifice our ancestors made for our nation’s independence and sovereignty, as well as the lessons to be learned from the different wars waged by Islamic warriors in history in order to maintain unity”.
President Abdulla Yameen announced the programme in his state of the nation address earlier this month.
Shareef said the president has tasked a nine-member high-level committee with implementing a roadmap formulated for the programme, the first phase of which has been mapped out till the end of 2019.
A technical committee has also been formed to provide assistance and the programme’s slogan, name, and logo will be revealed at the inauguration ceremony, he said.
Asked by the Maldives Independent about the budget for the programme, Shareef said the activities will take place within ongoing large-scale projects and programmes with opportunities offered to youth and schools.
“The president wants to carry out the project at a low cost,” he said, adding that Yameen has assured that the necessary funds will be arranged from the state budget.
Speaking at the press conference, Education Minister Aishath Shiham said that the government will seek the engagement and participation of the public in the campaign.
Apps and multi-media platforms will be used to reach “tech-savvy youth,” she said.
Home Minister Ahmed Azleen said the president’s aim is to repair the country’s “torn up social fabric” and restore age-old values, such as respect for the elderly and “obeying parents and rulers,” that have been lost in the turbulent past decade.
Along with the three ministers, the high-level committee includes Islamic Minister Dr Ahmed Ziyad Bagir, Chief of Defence Force Ahmed Shiyam, Chancellor of the Islamic University Dr Mohamed Shaheem, Chairman of the state-owned Public Service Media Ibrahim Umar Manik, PSM Managing Director Ibrahim Khaleel, Abdulla Farooq, and former minister Abdul Rasheed Hussain as the chief coordinator of the programme from the president’s office.