Tourists should steer clear of “emotional” Maldivians on local islands, the defence minister said Sunday, citing the advice as evidence of counter-terrorism.
Officials talked about the steps taken to counter violent extremism and radicalisation at a press conference to mark two years since the establishment of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).
“When tourists visit local communities, it’s important for them to stay within certain boundaries as Maldivians are emotional people,” said Defence Minister Adam Shareef. “We note it’s important to give special attention to religion,” referring to dress codes on local islands that prohibit skimpy clothing.
The international community portrayed the Maldives as a place that produced extremist ideologies, he said, but the NCTC’s work had changed that perception.
Brigadier General Zakariyya Mansoor, from the Maldives National Defence Force, told the media that people needed to be aware of extremism.
“Efforts by Maldivians to bring other religions into the country is something we all need to think about, as there’s a change in people’s thoughts leading to religious and political extremism in Maldives,” he said, adding that current events in Sri Lanka showed that people were being murdered over religious ideologies and that the Maldives should not allow pluralism.
The Maldives could not afford to experience anything that could affect the the tourism ministry as locals could lose the state services they had been receiving, the media was told.
Shareef also took questions on a tanker suspected of illegal ship-to-ship transfers with a North Korean vessel.
Abdulla Fahmy, an international oil businessman from G. Dh Madaveli, who was arrested at the weekend in relation to the incident has been charged with plotting to overthrow the government, Mihaaru reported.
Shareef implied there was a connection between the current turmoil in the Maldives and the tanker scandal.
“There’s a notable timeline to this. Even if this act was done before [the state of emergency], we note how much this hit the international community and the action taken against it. This was a very well-organized crime,” said the defence minister.
The NCTC also announced plans for an international counter-terrorism conference to be held on a Maldives resort next month.