Saturday 19 April 2014
M&H News
Maldives museum reopens, but without smashed pre-Islamic heritage

The Maldives National Museum has reopened a week after being targeted during the recent political protests, but almost all of its pre-Islamic exhibits have been destroyed.

It has been reported that the museum was hit by suspected religious extremists last week, who destroyed over 30 exhibits, some of which date back to the 6th century.

The exhibits were mostly images of Buddha and Hindu gods from before the 12th century when most inhabitants of the Indian Ocean archipelago were either Buddhists or Hindus, museum director Ali Waheed told Associated Press.

“Some of the pieces can be put together but mostly they are made of sandstone, coral and limestone, and they are reduced to powder.

“We are very sad. This is the physical and archaeological evidence of the country, we have nothing to show [of the Maldives’ pre-Islamic history],” Waheed said.

He added: “We had heard that some people were questioning why we are keeping non-Muslim exhibits in the museum … [but] there was never any direct threat. We did not expect it.”

When asked whether the Maldives has lost all of its pre-Islamic history, he said that there are still places in the country where excavation can be done, which could "lead to more exhibits".

Established in 1952 to preserve the history of the archipelago, the Maldives National Museum is one of the country’s main tourist attractions. It can be found in Malé, a conservative Muslim city that is the capital of the Republic of Maldives.

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