This week’s official Friday prayer sermon delivered in mosques throughout the Maldives exhorted the public to beware of fake news.
The Islamic ministry chose the topic after lodging complaints against media outlets that exposed a four-month delay in handing over MVR18 million (US$1 million) raised for Rohingya Muslim refugees last year.
“One of evilest actions used to pervert a society and obstruct the path of righteousness is spreading fake news,” the sermon warned.
“Muslim brothers! Holding the fake news being spread as true will lead to harm to the society and individuals as well. The development of the world currently has led to it becoming like a small island. Something happening far away reaches the people in no time. Due to social media and broadcast media. With these changes, the dangers of spreading fake news are much greater than ever before.”
Appearing on state media Thursday, Islamic Minister Dr Ahmed Ziyad said he has asked regulatory bodies to look into coverage of the Rohingya fundraising, accusing journalists of defaming government officials in charge of the fund.
The US$1 million – which was raised through government-coordinated fundraising activities in September – has now been handed over to the Bangladesh Red Crescent, he said.
But Ziyad told the press in November that the money would be delivered within a week.
Citing a reliable source, Mihaaru reported earlier this month that the money has yet to reach the humanitarian organisation. Contrary to Ziyad’s claim that he was not offered enough time to respond to calls, the newspaper said it contacted various government officials to no avail for about two months.
The ministry’s spokesman pleaded ignorance and directed inquiries to a member of the fund’s committee, who claimed he was unauthorised to speak to the media.
The ministry has yet to provide any explanation for the four-month delay.