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Maldives mob smashes Buddhist statues in national museum

AFP, Feb 8, 2012

MALE, Maldives -- Police said Wednesday a mob had stormed the Maldives national museum and smashed Buddhist statues, an act of vandalism which former president Mohamed Nasheed blamed on Islamic radicals.

“A mob entered the museum yesterday (Tuesday). They smashed many statues. This included some statues of Buddha,” police spokesman Ahmed Shiyam told AFP.

In an interview with AFP on Wednesday, Nasheed said a mob including Islamist hardliners had attacked the museum because they believed some of the statues inside were “idolatrous.”

Islam is the official religion of the Maldives and open practice of any other religion is forbidden and liable to prosecution.

Nasheed's resignation came after a small band of policeman mutinied on Tuesday morning and refused to obey an order to break up an anti-government protest where demonstrators were demanding the president step down

Islamist radicals had been used as part of the attack on his record in office, he said, referring to public statements alleging he was under the influence of Jews and was trying to bring Christianity to the Muslim nation.

“They (the opposition) feared they had no chance in the election next year,” he said. “There is no reason why people should be toppling the government.”

Presidential elections are scheduled for November 2013.

Since the initial mutiny on Tuesday morning, Nasheed said mobs had smashed up the offices of his Maldivian Democratic Party and a party worker had been murdered.


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