An Islamic preacher, who is suing journalists and news organisations that have accused him of an alleged Hajj scam, has spoken out.
Sheikh Nasrullah Musthafa has been charged in connection with an alleged scam that saw four people leave for Mecca without arrangements in place for their pilgrimage.
Hajj is the holy pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, required of all able Muslims at least once in their lifetime.
Mihaaru, citing an Islamic ministry official, reported Musthafa took money from the four but did not arrange for accommodation or an airport welcome. He is suing five reporters from Mihaaru and Vmedia, another news organisation that reported on the issue, for defamation.
Musthafa denied the allegations in an email to the Maldives Independent.
“I have not taken any money from any of the four people to send them to Hajj. I also never gave a document that said they can go to Hajj,” Musthafa said, adding he had arranged for the group to be received in Saudi Arabia and also for someone to take them to a hotel.
Mihaaru’s description that the four were “stranded” was an “offence to the Saudi system of accommodating pilgrims,” he said.
He had planned to accompany the group, but was not permitted to board the same flight due to medical issues. He caught up with the group after catching a flight later that day.
“I intended to help all of them with Hajj, and I tried to do this as soon as I reached Saudi,” he added.
RaajjeTV – a news channel that has been recently targeted by the state under a defamation law – last night issued a statement defending the accused journalists.