During the coup
that ousted President Mohamed Nasheed on Tuesday, scenes of violence resulted in the wanton destruction of historical treasures. Considered as a mark of idolatry by Islamic salafists, statues and monuments were destroyed by extremists blamed for the toppling of Nasheed.
The Maldives’ National Museum was the scene of the destruction, as a group of five men deliberately targeted artefacts from the Maldives pre-Islamic era, destroying Buddhist relics.
According to Minivan News
pieces vandalised include "the Bohomala sculptures, monkey statues and a broken statue piece of the Hindu water god, Makara, while the two five faced statues discovered from Male’ were also damaged – the only remaining archaeological evidence proving the existence of a Buddhist era in the Maldives." This was in addition to an 11th century coral stone head of Lord Buddha.
quoted a senior museum official who spoke of the destruction with great emotion. He said "They have effectively erased all evidence of our Buddhist past. We lost all our 12th century statues. They were made of coral stone and limestone. They are very brittle and there is no way we can restore them.
I wept when I heard that the entire display had gone. We are good Muslims and we treated these statues only as part of our heritage. It is not against Islam to display these exhibits.”
The Adhaalath Party, the Maldives Islamic group, which supports the newly installed President Mohamed Waheed, condemned the attack on the museum, while stating the constitution does not allow idols.
Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem has accused Islamic extremists, funded from abroad, of playing a part last weeks military coup to oust Naseem. In contrast Waheed denies there is any religious violence in the Maldives.