President Abdulla Yameen has appointed the controversial Islamic preacher Sheikh Adam Shameem to the Fatwa Majlis, the top religious body that has the final say on religious disputes in the Maldives.
Shameem, formerly a member of the Adhaalath Party, was appointed to the five-member Fatwa Majlis on Wednesday along with Ishag Mohamed Fulhu, the dean at the Maldives National University.
The move comes a month after the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives controlled Parliament amended the Religious Unity Act vesting the power to appoint members to the body with the president.
The Fatwa Majlis, also known as the Supreme Council on Islamic Affairs, has a mandate to ensure religious unity, raise public awareness on religious issues and conduct forums for religious scholars.
Shameem is known for preaching against multi-party democracy, liberalism and for being a jihadist-sympathizer in the on going Syrian conflict.
During the 2013 presidential elections, he gave a now-infamous sermon named ‘Andhalus’, in which he blamed the fall of Muslim Spain on Muslims forming business and political relations with non-Muslims. The sermon was widely perceived as an attack on former President Mohamed Nasheed.
In March 2015, Shameem was accused of deliberately politicizing a sermon in Raa atoll Innamadhoo Island.
Last year, in a ceremony held to mark the day Maldives converted to Islam in the 15th century, Shameem warned against rioting and protesting in matters of disputes, suggesting that it goes against the religious principles.
The 37-year-old studied at Jamia Salafiyya in Pakistan, Medina Islamic University in Saudi Arabia and holds a Masters degree in Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Heritage from International Islamic University in Malaysia.