The Maldivian Capital Male witnessed rival rallies on Friday, one to promote the Maldivian brand of tolerant Islam as practised since independence, and another, seeking to protect Islam from corrupting influences.

Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed addressed the rally that sought to promote the brand of tolerant Islam and called upon his countrymen not to be led astray by those preaching one thing and practicing another. This was the time for people to make up their minds on the path that Maldives took as a nation, and he wanted them to fight to help continue the Maldivian way of life and religion.

Soon after his rally ended, those claiming that Islam in Maldives had been corrupted, organised a rally, addressed by opposition politicians and religious leaders. Apparently, this rally, which was billed as a turning point in Maldivian politics, could not muster the numbers that it had promised to attract to Male.

The President’s Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair said: “The opposition said one lakh people would attend their rally but less than 5000 showed up. This is because their rallying call was based on a lie: that Islam is under threat in the Maldives. It also proves that most Maldivians are for tolerance and not the introduction of extreme punishments such as stoning, amputations or genital mutilation of girls,” he said.

For now, it seems that the government is holding firm on its commitment to a democratic society, based on the values of equality for all. But the call of Islamic radicals is getting louder by the day.

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