Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has called on Maldivians to respect followers of other religions.
One of the most important purposes of the Quran was to establish peace and equality among all of humanity, he said at an Ihya (revival) forum organised by the Islamic ministry on Thursday night.
“Islam does not teach us to respect only the Muslims. We have to respect people of other religions as well. Muslims have to respect the Christians, the Jews and people of other faiths,” urged Gayoom, an Azhar-educated scholar. “We cannot harbour bad feelings about a person or harm him just because he is not a Muslim. There has to be peace amongst everybody.”
The appeal came amid growing concern over rising intolerance and extremism in the wake of the Easter Sunday bombings in neighbouring Sri Lanka last month.
The Ihya programme of religious talks during Ramadan was started by Gayoom in 1980 and continued by successive administrations. Since leaving office in 2008, Gayoom continued the popular tradition with functions organised by his Maumoon Foundation.
Ramadan 2018 was the only year without Ihya talks by Gayoom as he was jailed on charges of conspiring to overthrow the administration of his half-brother Abdulla Yameen.