Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed has been condemned for calling Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed “an alleged recruiter” for the Islamic State group.
Shaheem, chancellor of the Islamic University of Maldives, was named as the running mate of President Abdulla Yameen for the September presidential election.
Nasheed on Tuesday linked the former Islamic minister to the jihadi group.
“President Yameen picks Shaheem – an alleged recruiter for Islamic State – as his running mate. Saudi Ambassador Bader Ali Al-Kohail endorses him. Tells you everything you need to know about Saudi support for violent extremism in the Maldives,” he tweeted.
Religious scholars who endorsed Shaheem’s nomination as running mate were quick to slam the opposition leader. But there were people in the opposition coalition who also criticized Nasheed.
Dr. Mohamed Iyaz Abdul Latheef, who frequently denounces the government, advised the former president to stop making false statements to discredit others because of political rivalry.
Sheikh Mohamed Aneel accused Nasheed of “blatantly lying” and praised Shaheem for his work against religious extremism.
The former vice president of the Adhaalath Party, Mauroof Hussain, said: “One side labels political opponents as terrorist and jails them through the courts while the other side labels political opponents as IS recruiters. When will these people grow up?”
The US-based security and risk management consultancy the Soufan Group has said around 200 to 250 Maldivians are known to be fighting in Syria and Iraq, making the island nation the highest foreign fighter contributor based on per capita.
Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim reportedly underlined the harm caused when accusations are thrown at other countries during the campaign. He also said trying to link religious scholars with extremism was damaging.
“The entire coalition campaign may be harmed when some people do such things without thinking,” he was quoted as saying by Mihaaru.
But Gasim denied saying that Nasheed’s actions may harm the coalition.
“Gasim or JP has not said that the unity between the four-party coalition might be affected because of President Nasheed. That is a big fabricated lie. That is an atrocity to weaken our unity,” he tweeted.
Shaheem also appeared on Sun TV Tuesday night and vowed to work against religious extremism and terrorism if elected vice president.