The majority of participants at a public forum has asked the government to reassembly the 18th century coral stone mosque dismantle by the previous administration, in capital city Malé.
A number of individuals, history researchers, and government staff participated in the Heritage Ministry’s public forum held at the Sultan Park on Wednesday night.
Mohamed Zahir, the director general of the Ministry of Environment, said that he believes the mosque should be kept in Malé.
Ahmed Naseem, a minister at the President’s Office, expressed his strong belief that the mosque belongs in the capital city and claimed he would protest if it were to be reassembled elsewhere.
Abbas Ibrahim, former minister and one of the first chiefs of the now defunct Maldivian Center for Historical Research, said that the mosque indeed belongs in the capital city, although he was in support of reassembling it in islands within the Greater Malé Area, such as Farukolhufushi or the Heritage Island.
Ibrahim ‘Ogaru’ Waheed, a former news anchor, said that wherever the mosque is assembled, it should have other structures built around it better preserve the coral stone and lacquer work. Waheed suggested that the mosque be reassembled in Hulhumalé, the capital city’s urban extension.
The forum however was divided on whether the mosque should continue to be a place for worshippers, while some suggested that it be preserved as a historical site and open to visitors, others suggest it should be made both; allowing worshippers to perform prayers as well as be open to visitors.
The mosque has been relocated several times, having once been assembled at a local island resort after being auctioned off. The mosque was assembled at the Sultan Park during the tenure of Maldives’ longstanding president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
The coral stone mosque, built in blocks so as to make dismantling without destroying easy, was removed in 2016 for development of the Sultan Park, which itself is a heritage site by virtue of being the personal leisure grounds for Maldivian royalty.
The park was reopened with recreational facilities and a ‘winter corner’; an ice rink having been built in the place of the mosque.
Finding and reassembling the mosque is one of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s first 100-day pledges.