President Mohamed Nasheed has reiterated his strong condemnation of the vandalism at the National Museum on 7 February 2012, by Islamic extremists who destroyed invaluable pre-Islamic era artifacts.
Security camera footage of the attack was broadcasted on local TV on Sunday night for the first time. According to museum officials, the vandals ransacked the works of art because they believed they were idols forbidden under Islamic law.
Officials said the vandals destroyed the entire pre-Islamic collection, including the museum’s most significant treasure – a carved ancient head of Gautama Buddha discovered in Alif Alif Atoll Thoddu, which dates back to the 6th century.
“This misguided act of vandalism caused tremendous loss to our country, our culture and our history. A narrative based on hatred and extremism was deliberately whipped up by those currently in power in order to justify the coup in February last year. That same narrative, and the climate of intolerance and impunity it created, also led to the vandalism at the museum,” said President Nasheed.
“Extremist behavior, and a hatred of other cultures and countries, is very real in the Maldives today. The continual denial of this sorry state of affairs by the current regime is deeply troubling,” President Nasheed added.
Mariya Didi MP, President Nasheed’s spokesperson said: “I am very concerned by the failure of the authorities to take any action against the museum vandals. The Maldives Police Service and the Prosecutor General have abdicated their responsibility to act. The perpetrators of this crime appear to enjoy some form of state-backed protection.”