Thursday, February 16, 2012

Preserving Buddhist and Hindu culture in an Islamic Republic

The Maldives’national museum reopened February 13th less than a week after a gang of suspected Muslim extremists stormed its doors and destroyed around thirty five exhibits of pre-Islamic art. According to the institution’s director, Ali Waheed, nearly all of the museum’s pre-Islamic artifacts from before the 12thcentury were destroyed.  The attack coincided with political protests that called for the reform of the government’s economic policies and the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed, who was forced to surrender his office last week.
Although the Maldivian constitution prohibits the practicing of any religion other than Islam, the museum’s recently destroyed collection of Buddhist and Hindu imagery and artifacts celebrated the early history of the island, when the majority of its residents practiced one of those two religions.
Despite claims made by newly appointed President Mohammed Waheed Hassan that “there is no extremist violent action in this country,” recent events suggest otherwise. We can only hope than Hassan makes more of an effort than his predecessor to protect and secure what little remains of pre-Islamic cultural heritage in the Maldives.
Originally posted by Joshua Mix on CulturalSecurity.net.

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