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Maldives island council responds to 9/11 Eid ‘celebration’

The US embassy said it would not be commenting on the crude mock-up of the 9/11 attacks.



A Maldives island council Monday responded to controversy over Eid festivities depicting a plane crashing into a tower as part of the celebrations.

The Eid celebration that took place on Maafaru, Noonu Atoll, was criticised after photos of it were posted on Facebook. The Facebook post with the images has since been removed.

Abdul Majid Ali, the president of Maafaru Island Council, told the Maldives Independent the council had played no part in organising this year’s celebrations for Eid al-Adha.

Majid said that the celebrations were organised by the northern and southern wards of the island.

The event showing the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center was organised by the northern ward, he said.

Photos showed men armed with pretend rifles and a tower with a US flag on top of it. A plastic plane on a zip-line crashes into the tower, with smoke and fire billowing out. Young children can be seen at the event and, in other images, people are smiling and taking photos of the scenes.

Majid said the same event had been staged on previous occasions, including last year’s Eid al-Adha celebration.

“We have never received any complaints about it. It was done last year and then some other years before that too,” he said. “We understand the criticism, especially since a lot of people lost their lives in what it depicts.

“So we will sit down with the organisers for the next Eid and talk about what can be done in light of the criticism.”

An event organiser said that what happened on Maafaru was not a celebration of the terror attacks that killed thousands of people in New York. He said the show was educational.

The US embassy told the Maldives Independent it would not be commenting at this time.

Radicalisation and extremism in the Maldives have caused alarm in the international community.

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.

Defence Minister Adam Shareef told reporters in January that online extremist content would be blocked, shortly after the United States issued a travel advisory citing the threat of a terror attack in the Maldives.

But the Maldives Independent reported in April that religious extremist websites and jihadist propaganda remained online.

Last year the UK government updated its travel advice to the country which said terrorists were “very likely” to carry out an attack.

The UK’s travel advice about terror attacks in the Maldives remains in place.