A Maldives blogger who mocked politicians and radical Islamists has been murdered, deepening concerns about rising extremism in the luxury holiday destination.
Yameen Rasheed, 29, (pictured) was found stabbed to death in the stairwell of his apartment block in the Maldives on Sunday. He had suffered a brutal attack, sustaining multiple wounds to his face, according to his father. He died in hospital.
He had apparently received death threats in the past because of his satirical blogs on the Maldives’ political and religious establishment. He had also undertaken an investigation into the disappearance of his friend and fellow journalist, Ahmed Rilwan, who was abducted in 2014.
Mr Rasheed’s murder was denounced by President Yameen, who said: “We condemn this action in the harshest terms. All resources of the state will be utilised to bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice.”
However, with the Maldives government adopting an increasingly authoritarian tone since Yameen came to power in 2013, these words were met with some skepticism.
Behind its image as a peaceful archipelago in the Indian Ocean frequented by honeymooning couples, the Maldives has been in political turmoil in recent years, with Islamic extremism the biggest threat.
It’s claimed more than 200 Maldivian youths have joined Islamic State. Radical Islamic teaching, rising unemployment and drug use have also driven the younger generation towards militant groups.
Saudi Arabia is blamed by some for the surge in extremism. President Yameen has welcomed the Saudis paying for the building of several mosques in the Maldives which promote Wahhabism, the Arab kingdom’s ultra-conservative brand of Sunni Islam.