The recent launch of the Maldivian version of the hit "Idol" format by TVM is one of the most significant events in Maldivian TV history. The show is by no means perfect, but it is one of the first times that Maldivians from all over the country have had a platform to show their talents. It is inspiring to see the joy on the faces of contestants who make the cut. Part of its purpose also seems to be to give the impression that the Maldives is a lot more progressive than it actually is. Probably a move by the Yameen administration to improve it's image abroad. Whatever the case, the show is commendable for sticking to it's progressive values. Predictably the backlash from the conservative crowd has already begun, with many calling to boycott the show for being "laadheenee" or irrelgious and "against Islam".
The latest of this hysteria involves a screenshot of one of the contestants from the first episode caught in the blasphemous act of putting his hands together as a gesture of thanks towards one of the judges.
Conservative rag Vaguthu, which was formerly known as MV Youth before multiple scandals involving their "journalists" stalking individuals forced them to "rebrand", was quick to run an article to add fuel to the flames.
First of all this guys writing is terrible. Each paragraph, while not technically wrong, is just one long convoluted sentence without a comma in sight. Translating this is going to be annoying.
The national TV (broadcaster?) which is is PSM, whose channel is TVM, which is currently airing "Maldivian Idol"...
Ok screw this guys writing. All you need to know is how he described the gesture as "how the idol worshipers greet one another".
It then goes into the "opinions" of people who have apparently commented on the photo while it was being circulated on "social media". The first of these upstanding citizens says that the fact that the show was not aired live begs the question of why such "images that the Dhivehi community would not approve of" were not edited out in the final product. Clearly a conspiracy is afoot!
The second person simply says "this is a very laadheenee image". How insightful!
The third directs his ire towards the government and says that this is "[something] laadheenee done by the dheenee (religious) government".
A fourth asks whether people think about what they are doing when they support such blasphemy that is "against the religion". He then says something kind of incoherent about music and singing being sinful before calling on people to be fearful of god.
Our amazing journalist ends the article by saying that even people that watch the show regularly have criticized the image.
Of course the comments section was in full agreement, with most people bemoaning the sheer blasphemy of the act. Below are the five comments with the most "likes". They show great insight into the clash between the progressive ideals of the show vs the conservatism that is still very much a part of day to day Maldivian life.
So it's okay when Unoosha hugs unmarried men (hiley firihenun, literally: free men)?
Woe (halaaku, literally: break, destruction) to Unoosha!
Maldivian idol... Dhivehi statue (budhu, literally: idol, statue, figure)
Next they'll construct a Maldivian temple.
Show like this will be held by sinful faajirun (I don't know what this last word means, probably something like malicious blasphemous bastard).
What idiot are you holding(/airing/organizing - it is difficult to properly translate this first sentence)? Just a bunch of people who don't know what to do! If you have to go to Male' for a Quran competition the parents will say that they have no money and no place to stay. When it comes to participating in this, they suddenly have the money to make their kids to whatever they want. These Dhivehin want to leave their religion for the pleasures and merriment of this world. Anni said to have fun without fear. The people who said that statement was bad are now doing the same thing. Because he'll get asked about democracy when he's in the grave, right now Anni is busy in Europe ripening/developing democracy. What a kingdom this is. Idiots.
There's nothing good about this idol of which you speak. Just loss and destruction.
I call on the Islamic Ministry to ban such vile things.
It will be interesting to see how the producers react to this growing negativity as the show progresses. The scale of the show means that this might be one of the first times where the silent and often hypocritical moderates are forced into confronting the ideals of their conservative counterparts.
The whole show can be watched via YouTube. It's worth watching for the great mini-documentaries on contestants alone. This format might be overdone in other places around the world, but for the Maldives it is a first. Anything that will help the country and it's people rise out of the sludge of conservatism and close mindedness is worthy of praise. I highly recommend it.