Nearly two weeks after a mob of suspected Muslim extremists smashed historical artifacts at Maldives’ national museum, local police has said investigations are ongoing, but no one has been arrested yet.
The Maldives' national museum reopened last Tuesday without some of its most valuable exhibits from the pre-Islamic era, mostly images and statues of Buddha and Hindu gods.
The attack on the museum by alleged Muslim militants was reminiscent of the Taliban’s destruction of the carved Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan in
According to the museum director, Ali Waheed, the outmost majority of the Maldives' pre-Islamic artifacts from before the 12th century, were reduced to powder.
The assault on the museum followed the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed, who won the presidency in democratic elections in 2008. He later said he was forced to step down following a series of protests by Islamic and other opposition political parties. Nasheed was highly criticized for his ties with Israel and allowing the sale of alcohol outside tourist resorts.
The practice or preaching of any religion other than Islam is prohibited in the Maldives constitution.
While the archipelago’s new President Mohammed Waheed Hassan has rejected claims of rising Muslim extremism in his country, tourist resorts’ owners may say otherwise as cancellations have increased since the latest political turmoil.
(Additional writing by Rana Khoury)