Two journalists, opposition figures arrested from mosque

Two journalists, opposition figures arrested from mosque
July 28 11:41 2016

Two journalists and four opposition figures were arrested Tuesday night while opposition supporters attempted to perform a prayer inside the Islamic centre in Malé.

Opposition supporters tried to make the supplication around 8pm after Isha prayers but police officers in plainclothes forcibly dispersed the crowd and arrested four people, including Sheikh Hussain Rasheed Ahmed, who was leading the prayer.

Mohamed Thoriq, a former MP of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, Hussain Amr, a member of the MDP’s economic committee, and MDP social media activist Simwar were also taken into custody.

Hussain Fiyaz Moosa, chief operating officer of the opposition-aligned Raajje TV, was arrested inside the mosque at the time. Ahmed Azif, assistant editor of Sun Online, was reportedly arrested while attempting to go inside the mosque.

All six were released after being held at the police headquarters for about four hours.

Fiyaz said he was accused of planning a political activity and of taking photographs inside the mosque. Azif was accused of obstructing police duty.

Police officers had also prevented several MDP leadership figures and activists as well as other Raajje TV reporters from going to Malé’s main mosque for Isha prayers.

The opposition coalition had announced plans to gather at the mosque for a prayer against “tyranny and injustice.”

Security was tightened in the area with a heavy police presence ahead of the official Independence Day reception hosted by the first couple at the Islamic centre piazza. The reception began around 9pm.

Metal detectors were also set up earlier in the day.

The police have been dispersing the opposition’s weekly Friday afternoon prayer gatherings outside the Islamic centre in recent weeks.

Raajje TV COO Fiyaz is meanwhile on trial on a charge of “touching a police officer” while covering the police and military’s attempts to defuse a bomb in Malé last November.

Following his arrest, Fiyaz shared on Twitter an official invitation he received to attend the Independence Day reception.

Sheikh Hussain Rasheed Ahmed