An Islamist group from the Maldives with links to the war in Syria has denied issuing a death threat to Jamaican reggae star Sean Paul. The president of the Maldives has said he believes the threat to be a hoax.
Last week it was reported that a threat had been posted online warning Paul that if he performed at a New Year’s Eve concert he would be killed.
“Sean Paul, if you visit the Maldives, the world will see your burned and blood-drenched dead body,” said cards held by a cloaked figure in the video posted on YouTube. “Sean Paul, who is joining from abroad in the celebration of year-end 2014…is a major disbeliever.”
A report in the Minivan News said that the invitation to 41-year-old Paul, whose full name is Sean Paul Ryan Francis Henriques, had been made by the government’s tourism department. The singer, also known for his Dance Hall style, is due to perform at a free concert in Male, the capital.
It said that the video threat bore the logo of the Bilad Al Sham Media (BASM) group, an organisation which claims to consist of Maldivian jihadis based in Syria and the Maldives. The group has reported the deaths of five Maldivians in the Syrian conflict this year.
Over the weekend, a posting on the BASM’s official Facebook page said the organisation was not responsible for levelling the threat at the singer.
“Anything released by Bilad Al Sham Media will be done through our official Facebook page or twitter account and no one should accept anything from any other source claiming to be from us” it said, according to a report on the Haveeru news website.
The message added: “We suspect that the video was released by Maldivian Democratic Party supporters/secularists or other such anti-Islamic elements who have been pushing hard to portray a threat to the Maldives which in reality does not exist.”
The President of the Maldives, Abdulla Yameen, claimed an investigation into the threat had shown it to be a hoax.
“The investigation has revealed that the threat is designed to dissuade visitors, create an atmosphere of fear and disappoint the many thousand fans of Sean Paul who eagerly await the landmark concert,” he said in a statement.
The Maldives, an Indian Ocean nation made up of more than 1,000 atolls, attracts tourists from around the world in search of tranquility and breath-taking beaches.
But there is concern about the growth of extremism on the islands, which claim to be entirely Muslim, and in particular about the influence of Wahhabi-influenced conservatism.
For many decades, the Maldives was run by a military dictator, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who in 2008 was beaten in the first open election by former political prisoner, Mohamed Nasheed.
Mr Nasheed was forced out of office in early 2012 in what he termed a coup and the country was plagued with political turmoil for more than 18 months. The current president, Mr Yameen, a half-brother of Mr Gayoom, was elected in November 2013.
Jamaican media has reported that a final decision on whether Paul will perform has yet to be made. His publicist, Carlette DeLeon, told the Jamaican Observer at the weekend they were aware of the “developing situation”.
Meanwhile on his Facebook page, Paul sent a message to his fans in the Indian Ocean nation.
“I have felt the love and support from many Maldivian citizens looking forward to the concert,” he said. “I have also heard the concerns of some citizens regarding the concert and the concerns of my fellow Jamaicans. During this very holy season for people of all faiths, I pray for peace.”Reuse content