With India already faced with a serious security threat from Pakistan and China, a fresh controversy in the Maldives over its government planning to give control of an entire atoll to Saudi Arabia seems to have added to its worries.
A Times of India report cited members of the Maldivian Democratic Party saying that the decision to “sell” Faafu – one of the 26 atolls – to Saudi Arabia would intensify Wahhabism in the country.
It is worth mentioning here that the archipelago already accounts for one of the highest numbers of foreign fighters in Syria in terms of per capita.
According to the report, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud will be travelling to Maldives soon.
Meanwhile, upset with Abdulla Yameen government's plan, MDP member and former foreign minister Ahmed Naseem said that government did not bother to take people’s consent.
“In the old days, selling land, which is scarce in Maldives, to foreigners would have been seen as high treason punishable by death,” Naseem told TOI.
In 2015, the government passed a constitutional amendment that allowed foreigners to own land in the Maldives. Also, Maldives remains the only country in India’s neighbourhood that Prime Minister Narendra Mod has avoided visiting.
The MDP said that the decision to “sell” Faafu should be seen in the context of proliferation of Wahhabism for decades now and also Male’s decision to sever its 41-year-old ties with Iran at the behest of Saudi Arabia.
“Saudis fund scholarships for 300 students every year. About 70% of Maldivian population already subscribes to the Wahabi sect,” said a MDP official.
“There is a plan by Yameen to bring in Islamic teachers from Saudi Arabia. This will turn these schools to madrasas,” he added.