Man arrested from opposition’s weekly prayer gathering

Man arrested from opposition’s weekly prayer gathering
May 21 17:38 2016

Riot police officers on Friday arrested a man from the opposition’s weekly prayer gathering outside the Islamic Centre on a charge of disobeying orders.

Local media has identified the detained as Maumoon Sulaiman, a former Thaa atoll councillor representing the Vilifushi constituency.

The criminal court extended his detention to five days last night.

Opposition supporters have been gathering outside Malé’s main mosque every week after Friday prayers since the arrest of former President Mohamed Nasheed in February last year.

Riot police began dispersing the gathering in mid-April, sparking heated exchanges with opposition supporters.

In November, the Islamic ministry claimed the weekly prayer for jailed politicians contained “ill-wishes towards particular people” and incited “strife, hatred and anger” among Maldivians.

The prayer violated the Religious Unity Act, the ministry insisted, warning that action would be taken against “repeat offenders.” Soon thereafter, Ahmed Hassan – a council member of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party who had been leading the prayer – was arrested and detained for ten days.

Meanwhile, faced with the threat of sanctions and mounting foreign pressure, the government in January authorised Nasheed to seek medical treatment in the UK for a chronic back problem.

The opposition leader remains in London after the government extended his medical leave earlier this month.

Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla and two former defence ministers were meanwhile temporarily transferred to house arrest last month.

The leniency for the high-profile prisoners followed a warning of action by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group if progress is not made by September to resolve the year-long political crisis.