Government plans to develop a cafe on the Malé Friday Mosque site have stalled after a backlash on social media, including criticism from a former president.
The Malé Friday Mosque, built in 1658, is on UNESCO’s Tentative World Heritage List and is described as “the most important heritage site of the country” and “one of the finest coral stone buildings in the world.”
The housing ministry issued a notice for a cafeteria to be built on the site, to accompany the development of the mosque’s gardens, but put it on hold after the criticism. The ministry said it was looking into the matter further, while a spokesman told Mihaaru that construction had not been ruled out.
Former president Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom was among those to express concern about the loss of the heritage site, which also houses the grave of his predecessor Ibrahim Nasir. Nasir is credited with modernising the country and starting its tourism industry.
The government has also come under fire for its plans to demolish three mosques to make way for multistorey, multi-purpose buildings.
However, despite allocations in the budget, Islamic Minister Dr Ahmed Ziyad Bagir said the government respected Islam and would not make any sudden decisions.