The government has come under fire after Maldivian models wore “indecent clothes” in the country’s first beauty pageant.
It triggered a rush of criticism towards the government’s claimed commitment and efforts in defending Islam and promoting its values.
Ruling party lawmakers last week reiterated allegations that the opposition is conspiring with foreign groups to “wipe out Islam from the Maldives” after an EU electoral follow-up mission noted that its recommendation to allow non-Muslims to vote and stand for office remains unaddressed.
Religion is a hot-button issue in local politics. During past election cycles, former president Mohamed Nasheed was accused of pursuing a secularist agenda that posed an existential threat to the country’s 100 percent Muslim status.
MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla compared the opposition leader to Andiri Andirin, a regent in the mid-1500s who tried to forcibly convert Maldivians to Christianity.
“This year’s presidential election is becoming a war between Islam and false religions,” the deputy leader of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives said.
But opposition activists and supporters were unimpressed by the government’s rhetoric and its actions, with foreign minister Mohamed Asim reported to have attended the runway show and the top brass stressing the country’s Islamic purity and identity ahead of presidential elections.
“The EU has been put to shame with an event showing Maldives’ Islamic customs. Well done Yameen,” one man tweeted.
“War begun to defend the religion. Top Model Maldives 2018. Where are the sheikhs that speak for the religion?” a woman asked.
“The government is protesting over the EU declaration by increasing nudity and catwalks,” another man said.
“Dr. Ahmed Ziyad’s regime endorsed the most nude show ever in Maldives history. Is this how Adurey and Muizzu protect Islam? The show was an international event endorsed by Maldives government. Sad that Mihaaru news could not report on this. So much for Yameen saving Islam,” said another, who criticised the Islamic minister, Fonadhoo MP and housing minister.
The beauty pageant winner, Jamsheedha Jamsheedh, was crowned at a grand finale on April 18.
The top ten models walked the runway displaying beach wear, evening wear, and jewellery collections and the show was webcast live.