Maldives celebrates Boy Scout for saving the president
The teenager is being hailed as 'national hero' for thwarting an assassination attempt in the nation of tiny Indian Ocean islands.
Colombo, Sri Lanka
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Mohammed Jaisham Ibrahim, wearing his blue Maldives scout uniform with a blue kerchief, was among those waiting to greet the leader Tuesday when the attacker lunged out from the crowd.
"Jaisham our national hero saves the president," the Midhu Daily newspaper cheered in a headline.
President Maumoon Gayoom was unhurt, but his shirt was ripped as the attacker tried a second time to stab him before being overpowered by security guards, government spokesman Mohammed Shareef said. The incident occurred on Hoarafushi, one of the 1,190 coral islands in the Indian Ocean that make up the Maldives.
"One brave boy saved the president's life," Mr. Shareef said.
He added that the Cabinet will discuss awarding a national honor to Ibrahim. "The scouting movement is celebrating its centenary this year, and it is also seriously considering some way to recognize the bravery of this boy."
The attacker hid a knife in the Maldivian flag as he awaited Mr. Gayoom's arrival, then sprang toward the president, Shareef said. Ibrahim reached out and grabbed the blade, and he was cut on the hand, according to the government.
"He has become a hero," said Ahmed Zahir, executive editor of Haveeru newspaper. "There were hundreds of people gathered at the jetty to receive him when he arrived in Male [Tuesday]. He is a very smart boy. I don't know how he reacted so quickly. He is very, very brave I would say."
Boy Scouts in the Maldives are similar to their US counterparts, receiving training in first aid and participating in activities like camping. Their motto is the same as well: "Be Prepared."
Shareef said the assassination attempt may have had a "political motive," but it was too early to say if Islamic militants were involved. Opposition to Gayoom's three-decade rule has grown in recent years and there have also been concerns about increased Islamic militancy in the Muslim nation.
Gayoom has ruled the Maldives since 1978 and helped turn it into a major tourist destination.