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Salaf preacher denied entry to India

Sheikh Shameem was barred due to national security reasons.



Sheikh Adam Shameem was barred entry to India on Friday morning and sent back to the Maldives.

The NGO Salaf preacher was held at the Trivandrum airport by Indian immigration officials, Ahmed Mohamed, the Maldivian ambassador in New Delhi, told local media.

He was denied entry due to national security reasons, according to the ambassador.

Indian authorities did not offer further explanations and refused to let Maldivian foreign ministry officials meet Shameem while he was being held at the airport.

Shameem was reportedly travelling to seek medical treatment for his father, who was allowed entry along with Shameem’s brother.

Amid nosediving relations since New Delhi expressed “deep dismay” about a state of emergency in February, the ruling party parliamentary group leader was also denied entry to India in June.

The hardline Salaf group, of which Shameem is a prominent cleric, backed President Abdulla Yameen in the September 23 election, whilst the religious conservative Adhaalath Party was part of the joint opposition.

But in the wake of his expulsion, Adhaalath Party clerics have come to Shameem’s defence.

He would not pose a danger to anyone, tweeted Sheikh Mohamed Iyaz.

“Sheikh Adam Shameem is not a terrorist. Neither does he promote terrorism. He promotes peace and tolerance. He is not a threat to anyone,” added Sheikh Mohamed Aneel.

Shameem gained notoriety over a sermon delivered on the eve of the 2013 presidential elections. The infamous ‘Andalus’ sermon, in which he blamed the fall of Muslim Spain on business and political relations with non-Muslims, was widely perceived as an attack on former president Mohamed Nasheed.