Law and Gender Ministry to provide water from local supply to Special Needs Centre

The Ministry of Law and Gender has said it is currently working on providing clean water to the Centre for People with Special Needs in Guraidhoo through the local water supply plant.

The announcement has been made following the issuance of a directive from the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) ordering the ministry to make immediate arrangements to provide clean water that fits WHO standards to the community.

Observation teams from the HRCM found the water used at the centre to be contaminated with e-coli bacteria and has been advising the ministry to solve the issue since 2009.

Speaking to local media, Deputy Minister of Law and Gender Mohamed Zahid dismissed the HRCM’s observations, stating that residents of the centre were not currently using the contaminated water for drinking or bathing purposes.

He explained that the delay in supplying clean water to the centre came because of the Ministry’s intention of “acting justly towards all” and attempting to provide water from the plant to all locals of Guraidhoo instead of just those living in the centre.

“The water we naturally get from Guraidhoo is not of a quality safe for any use. We wanted to do things justly and equitably towards all. It is not fair to provide clean water only to those residing in the centre,” he is quoted as saying.

Zahid, however, added that water from the public supply can be continuously supplied to the centre within 25 days, while the rest of the island can expect to get the service by 2015.

The directive released by HRCM on October 14 callsed upon the ministry to immediately introduce temporary facilities which will provide clean water for basic needs, and requests detailed plans for dealing with the facility’s water and sewerage problems by October 19.

In 2011 the HRCM has conducted tests on the water available in the centre after receiving complaints that it had a foul smell. Three of four samples taken from the centre proved to be below WHO approval standards.

Hafeeza, head of the ministry’s section mandated with oversight of the centre, could not be reached at the time of press, while a ministry official who requested to remain unnamed declined from commenting on the matter.

The Malé Water and Sewerage Company (MWSC) signed an agreement with Kandooma Resort last year to provide a 30 tonne water plant to Guraidhoo as part of MVR1.5 million (US$97,600) investment.


Women against drugs to provide vocational training for recovering addicts

Local drug prevention and rehabilitation NGO Society for Woman Against Drugs (SWAD) has today initiated a programme to provide vocational training for recovering female addicts in the Maldives.

This programme – conducted in collaboration with the German embassy to Sri Lanka and the Maldives – was launched today at the SWAD vocational training center by chief guests Ambassador Dr Juergen Morhard and Home Minister Umar Naseer.

Speaking at the ceremony, Umar Naseer thanked Dr Morhard for the generous contribution which has allowed the NGO to buy the necessary materials as well as noting his appreciation for SWAD’s extraordinary contribution to the fight against drugs.

“I am sure that every country is struggling in this fight against drugs and so is Maldives, but I am very hopeful that we will see progress in this fight with initiatives such as this vocational training by SWAD,” said Naseer.

In his speech, Dr Morhard stated that drug abuse and trade is the harsh reality of the current world from downtown Berlin to the beautiful beaches of the Maldives, and thanked SWAD for stepping up against drugs in the Maldives.

Speaking to Minivan News after the ceremony, SWAD Chairperson Fathimath Afiya said the aim of the training center is to provide skill building opportunities for recovering addicts in order to make the transition back into society easier.

“Participants will be taught a wide variety of skills such as sewing and carpet weaving which could be marketed towards tourists which would enable the participants to earn an income in a society where there is a lot of stigma towards former drug addicts preventing them from obtaining work,” said Afiya.

The NGO plans to make the project self-sustainable using the income generated by the sales of the goods and has aspirations to have the whole programme run by recovering addicts in the future.

A national drug use survey published in 2012 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported that 48 percent of drug users in the Maldives feel they are neglected and perceived as outcasts by the local community.

The stigmatisation of drug addicts leads to the creation of a cycle of addiction with recovering addicts relapsing back into drug abuse as an escape from perceived ‘disgrace’ they have brought upon themselves and their families.

Work done by NGOs such as SWAD and Journey – a support NGO for recovering addicts – seeks to break the the addiction cycle with recovering addicts having opportunities to successfully reintegrate into the society as useful and contributing citizens.

The UNODC survey reported that there were 7,496 drug users in the Maldives between the age of 15 and 64 in the Maldives and that 48% of drug users in the capital Malé were between the ages of 15 and 19 years.


HRCM repeats calls for clean water at special needs centre

The Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) has asked the government to address problems in the water and sewerage system Guraidhoo’s Centre for People with Special Needs.

The directive calls upon the ministry to immediately introduce temporary facilities which will provide clean water for basic needs, and requests detailed plans for dealing with the facility’s water and sewerage problems by October 19.

The centre, in Kaafu atoll, is the only facility for Maldivians suffering from mental disabilities and currently falls under the remit of the Ministry of Law and Gender.

The commission states that the government has failed to take action despite repeated appeals from the HRCM over the past 5 years.

Today’s directive was released based on observations made by a team from the commission which visited the centre on September 16.

The HRCM revealed in a statement that tests conducted on the water used for sanitation purposes in the centre showed a high presence of e-coli bacteria, in contravention of World Health Organisation (WHO) approved standards.

Doctors who joined the observation team suggested that using the water could lead to diarrhoea, skin diseases, and urine infections among other ailments.

The statement further noted that medical records from the centre showed a large number of patients were already suffering from skin diseases.

The HRCM stated that it had been repeatedly calling on the government to solve the issues regarding the water supply of since 2009. A report released that year stated that approximately MVR9,000 (US$583) was spent each week on purchasing bottled water for drinking purposes alone.

While Tuesday’s statement calls on the government to provide clean drinking water, it does not specify whether the centre was continuing to supply mineral water to residents.

The commission also conducted tests on the water in 2011, after complaints it had a foul smell. Three of four samples taken from the centre proved to be below WHO approval standards.

Minister of State for Law and Gender Dr Hala Hameed was not responding to calls at the time of press, while an official of the Ministry of Law and Gender who requested to be unnamed declined from commenting on the matter.

The Ministry of Law and Gender has the mandate to oversee all government functions related to families, children, women, people with special needs, and human rights.

The Malé Water and Sewerage Company last year signed an agreement with Kandooma resort to provide a 30 tonne water plant to nearby Guraidhoo as part of a MVR1.5 million (US$97,600) investment.


Government bars arrivals from countries worst affected by Ebola

The Government of Maldives will no longer issue on-arrival visas to travellers arriving from countries heavily affected by the Ebola outbreak.

Arrivals from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea will not be issued visas, third country nationals who have visited these countries will not be granted entry until 21 days have elapsed.

“The Government of Maldives has taken these decisions based on the need to protect the Maldives from the disease, and to assure both nationals and tourists of the seriousness with which the matter is being taken by the authorities,” explained the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The current outbreak of the virus was first reported in March this year and has gone on to kill more than 4000 people in West Africa, making it more deadly than all previous ebola epidemics combined.

Minister of Defence and acting health minister Mohamed Nazim last night announced the measures during a ceremony at the health ministry, expressing his hope that the disease not spread to a country as vulnerable as the Maldives.

Thirty day visas are currently provided on arrival to over one million tourists visiting the Maldives each year. The generous visa rules have also made the country a popular transit point for refugees.

man from Nigeria was place in quarantine in Hulhumalé late last month after appearing to be unwell, though he was later found to have no symptoms of the virus.

During a health ministry press conference held following this incident, officials explained that all arrivals from the affected region were being screened at immigration and monitored upon their release.

HPA Epidemiologist Dr Aishath Aroona Abdulla noted at the time that 109 individuals from the affected areas had visited the Maldives since screening began, but that none had come from the three worst affected countries.

A press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday reiterated the “quite insignificant” levels of travel between the countries in question and the luxury tourist destination.

Visitors from Africa made up just 0.7 percent of all tourist arrivals to the Maldives in 2013, with 0.4 percent of these coming from South Africa.

In late August the government advised Maldivian nationals against travel to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It was announced yesterday that any Maldivians returning from the three heavily affected countries will now be isolated for the duration of the 21 day incubation period.

The first symptoms of the disease – currently known to be transmitted only through direct contact and bodily fluids – include fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache, and a sore throat. This is followed by diarrhoea and vomitting.

The disease can impair the functioning of organs such as the kidneys and liver and can result in internal and external bleeding. There is currently no vaccine or cure for Ebola and past outbreaks have had fatality rates of up to 90 percent.


US sailors visit children’s home, join clean-up event in Vilimalé

No additional reporting by missing journalist Ahmed Rilwan

Officers and crew from the USS Rodney M Davis visited the Kudakudhinge Hiya orphanage or children’s home in Vilimalé yesterday (October 8 ) and assisted with painting and repairs.

“The American sailors also worked with a local environment group Save the Beach Maldives to clean up island debris later that afternoon,” reads a press release from the US embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The USS Rodney M Davis – an Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate with the US 7th Fleet – visited the Maldives this week on its last tour of duty.

The 27-year-old, 4000-ton, 435-feet long, and 45-feet wide frigate is due to be retired by the US Navy. Local journalists were invited for a tour of the ship on Tuesday (October 7).

In its last major operation in 2010, the frigate seized over 1,500kg of drugs from a vessel in the South Pacific Ocean.

Vice Admiral Robert Thomas said earlier this week that he expected the visit to the Maldives would be “tremendously beneficial to build on our excellent relationships with the maritime nations of the Indian Ocean.”

“The area is critical to regional security, and the partnerships we build with this training will go a long way to creating a more professional and stable maritime environment,” he was quoted as saying in an earlier press release.

The embassy meanwhile noted that the sailors volunteered their personal “liberty” time to participate in the activities in Vilimalé yesterday with support from the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and Ministry of Law and Gender.

“Time off is very precious because our sailors put in long hours while we are at sea,” said Lt. Russell Wolfkiel, public affairs officer for the Rodney M. Davis.

“One of the highlights of deployment is the opportunity to engage with the local communities when we visit exotic ports like Maldives.”

The American sailors repainted the interior of the orphanage while special fire safety trainers explained how to service fire extinguishers and demonstrated their proper usage.

“This is very important for us. We are very appreciative of your team to come here and do some painting and to take some time to explain the fire alarm systems,” said Mohamed Shafeeg, deputy director of Kudakudhinge Hiyaa.

A second group of sailors meanwhile joined a clean-up event organised by a local youth group called Save the Beach Maldives. The debris collected from across the island included heavy concrete pieces left over from construction projects.

“We hope more people want to help places like this in the future because it’s not just a problem for Maldives here.  It’s a problem for everyone around the world,” said Fathimath Thanzeela Naeem, the lead coordinator for the clean-up.

“We are all connected by the ocean so I’m sure that bigger countries like the US could make an impact as well.”

The Rodney M Davis departed today after concluding its four-day stopover.

Aside from the day out in Vilimalé, the sailors also participated in sporting activities with the MNDF Coast Guard, “building camaraderie and friendships with the local mariners.”

“I like being able to come overseas and help out other people and see how they live,” said Petty Officer Daniel Cornede.

“Especially when it comes to cleaning up the beach, because I come from Hawaii, and this is how I was raised to pick up trash off the beach.”


Forum organised in Melbourne to raise awareness about Rilwan’s disappearance

No additional reporting by missing journalist Ahmed Rilwan

An open forum titled ‘Silencing Dissent: The Abduction of a Young Journalist in the Maldives’ is due to take place in Melbourne, Australia tomorrow (October 9) to raise awareness about the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan.

The event was organised by a group of concerned Maldivians residing in Australia and will be held Thursday 7:00pm Australian time at the Victoria College of the Arts, according to a press release from the #FindMoyameeha campaign.

“One reason why we are holding this forum is to keep Rilwan’s story alive,” explained Khadeeja Naseem, a member of the organising team.

“From what little we’ve heard so far it is highly likely that Rilwan’s disappearance is a forced one. By telling it far and wide – even in distant places like Australia – we hope to ensure that more hear about Rilwan’s story and that such sad events are never repeated.”

The forum will feature a series of talks and presentations from Rilwan’s family and friends about the journalist’s suspected abduction as well as challenges to freedom of expression in the Maldives.

Rilwan has been missing for 61 days and is believed to have been abducted at knife point outside his apartment building in Hulhumalé around 2:00am on August 8.

The organisers of the forum noted that Australia was “a close development partner of the Maldives” and has provided scholarships to dozens of Maldivian students and assisted with capacity-building of the Maldives Police Service through training and support.

“As an important bilateral partner, we feel that Australians can bear on the Maldives government to do more in the efforts to find Rilwan,” the press release stated.

“Although independent sources have pointed at evidence indicating Rilwan was forcibly abducted, the authorities, especially the Maldives Police Service has been reluctant to offer any substantial information on Rilwan’s whereabouts or how the investigation has been proceeding,” reads the Facebook page for the event.

“This is the first time a journalist has been disappeared in the country, and it is a shock for Maldivian society, despite the rise in murder and violent crime during the last decade.

“Rilwan’s disappearance is yet another tragic link in a series of events where journalists, democracy activists and proponents of free speech have been continually threatened and harassed. More significantly, these events are symptomatic of the reversal of the democratic gains Maldives has made in the past decade.”

Suspects in custody

In late September, police arrested four suspects in connection with Rilwan’s disappearance. While the Criminal Court has since released one of the suspects from remand detention and transferred a second to house arrest, two suspects still remain in police custody.

In a press statement on October 2, Rilwan’s family called on the police “respectfully” to share findings of the investigation and update the family, friends and wider public on progress made so far.

“Every day and night that passes without the truth of the case being revealed is filled with questions, anxiety, and deep sadness for the family,” the statement read.

Following the arrests last week, both Rilwan’s family and human rights NGO Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) welcomed the “progress in the police investigation”.

“The Criminal Court’s extension of their detention signifies progress in the investigation,” said MDN.

MDN released an investigation report last month implicating radicalised gangs in Rilwan’s suspected abduction.

The investigation report by Glasgow-based Athena Security confirmed evidence of possible “hostile surveillance” of Rilwan at the Hulhumalé ferry terminal in Malé conducted by two known affiliates of Malé-based Kuda Henveiru gang. One of the suspects was identified as Ahmed Shiran Saeed.

Minivan News understands Shiran is currently in police custody for unrelated charges.

Citing the abduction of several young men in June by a vigilante group in a push to identify online activists advocating secularism or professing atheism, the report said gang activity in Rilwan’s abduction was a “strong possibility”.

The report noted increased radical activity among members of three main gangs in Malé – Bosnia, Kuda Henveiru, and Buru – and claimed members had participated in attacks against individuals they deem “un-Islamic”.

Rilwan had “regularly received clear threats to his life” for his outspoken criticism of religious extremists, the report said.

One man named in the report vandalised Minivan News office’s security camera on September 25 shortly before two others buried a machete in the building’s door.

A Minivan News journalist received death threats after the incident, which read, “You will be killed or disappeared next. Watch out.”

While police arrested a 32-year-old suspect on charges of stealing the security camera – who was clearly identifiable on the CCTV footage – the Criminal Court released the suspect with conditions the following day.


Principals association calls on government to address grievances of teachers

No additional reporting by missing journalist Ahmed Rilwan

The Principals Association of Maldives (PAM) has called on the government to address concerns raised by teachers, review the pay scheme, and identify education sector reforms.

In a press statement released on Sunday (October 5), PAM contended that wages were disproportionate to the extra hours put in by teachers and expressed concern with experienced teachers leaving the field at an alarming rate.

“Efforts to retain quality teachers and attract bright students to the sector should be carried out swiftly,” PAM suggested.

“Opportunities for professional development should be increased and broadened for [teachers] on the job. Teaching should be made an honourable and generous occupation worthy of people’s respect.”

Referring to the theme of this year’s International Teacher’s Day (October 5) – ‘invest in the future, invest in teachers’ – PAM called on the government to allocate large amounts in the state budget from 2015 onward to invest in teachers.

As teachers imparted knowledge, taught skills and instilled values needed by future generations, PAM stressed the importance of “thinking about the condition of teachers and taking into account their feelings and concerns”.

In addition to better pay and benefits, PAM suggested improving work environments as well as the quality of programmes and training courses conducted for professional development of teachers.

In her message on Teacher’s Day, Education Minister Dr Aishath Shiham pledged to provide more training and development opportunities for teachers and principals before the end of the year.

Dr Shiham expressed gratitude for the “hard and invaluable work” of teachers.

Noting that the most important aspect of education policy was implemented by teachers in classrooms, the minister said efforts were underway to prepare manuals or handbooks for teachers and parents as well as development plans for schools.

A detailed and longterm “subject improvement plan” would also be provided to teachers next year, she said.


Last month, the Teachers Association of Maldives (TAM) called off a planned nationwide strike to hold talks with the government.

Following a meeting with President Abdulla Yameen, TAM revealed that the president had asked for a detailed proposal to address grievances about pay and other issues.

The proposal on revising salary for teachers and improving efficiency in the education sector would be submitted this month following consultation with the education ministry, TAM said.

The response from President Yameen was “positive” and TAM received assurances that a pay rise would be considered, the association noted.

PAM also noted that the discussions with President Yameen was a positive development.

“The government’s decision to sit for talks and compile a timeline [on meeting the demands] is a sign President Yameen himself attended to the teacher’s demands,” TAM President Athif Abdul Hakeem told Minivan News on September 21 after teachers went to work dressed in black.

Around 90 percent of teachers were reported to have demonstrated by wearing black to work.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had also announced its support for the strike should discussions with the government fail.

They have been asking for this raise from Maumoon’s administration, through Nasheed’s and Waheed’s administration and now into Yameen’s administration. It is with great sadness that we have to note that everyone has turned on a deaf ear to their pleas,” wrote MDP MP Rozaina Adam on her personal blog.

The Ministry of Education had earlier appeared unwilling to give in to teachers’ demands for higher pay and reform, while the Labor Relations Authority reportedly labelled the proposed strike as ‘not peaceful’.

A statement from the Civil Service Commission meanwhile noted that government was treating the potential strike as illegal.

Grievances raised by TAM include revised pay, protection of teachers and students, and official recognition of the association.


Law and gender ministry threatens legal action against extremist practices

No additional reporting by missing journalist Ahmed Rilwan

The Ministry of Law and Gender has warned it would take legal action against extremist practices such as unregistered marriages and refusal to vaccinate or send children to school.

The ministry revealed in a press statement on Thursday (October 2) that the number of such cases brought to its attention by various state institutions was on the rise.

Legally unrecognised marriages and refusal to vaccinate or send children to school were criminal offences under child protection, family, public health, and religious unity laws as well as the penal code, the statement noted.

“As upholding the society’s interests is a responsibility of the state, we inform and announce that henceforth the relevant state authorities will be taking legal action against those who commit the aforementioned crimes,” the ministry warned.

Healthcare and education for children were also fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution, the ministry noted, and were not left to the discretion of parents.

Moreover, assuring the rights was a legal obligation of both the state and legal guardians, it added.

Children born of unregistered marriages pose several problems such as establishing legal guardianship and determining child care payments in the case of divorce, the ministry said.

Unregistered marriages

In its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) submission to the UN Human Rights Council, the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) referred to an estimate from the education ministry in a 2011 assessment by the HRCM on child participation concerning the number of children whose parents refuse to send them to school.

“There are roughly 400 children being withheld from attending school by their parents due to religious beliefs,” reads the section titled ‘religious extremist ideologies.’

The report also observed that children born out of wedlock faced discrimination.

“Paternity testing is not admissible evidence in court and such a child would be denied father’s name, inheritance and child maintenance,” it stated.

The UPR report also referred to reports of unregistered marriages encouraged by some religious scholars claiming that registering marriages with the courts are un‐Islamic and unnecessary.”

“State institutions acknowledge this information and raised concerns that children born to such marriages could face serious legal issues. Similarly women in such marriages are bound to face social and legal consequences,” the report stated.

In April, the Family Court announced it would not be registering marriages performed by individuals without the court’s involvement.

The court noted that it could not accept cases related to divorce or other disputes if marriages were not registered officially.

Marriages performed outside the Maldives are registered by the Family Court upon submission of legal documentation.

The penalty for violating the Family Act is meanwhile a fine of up to MVR1,000 or banishment to another inhabited island for a period less than six months.

The court had raised the issue of unregistered marriages in 2010 as well.

Religious extremists in the Maldives have both endorsed and performed such marriages, claiming that even private, out-of-court marriages should be treated as legal as long as the minimum Shariah requirements for marriage are met.

Some cases of out-of-court marriages include child marriages, which are to a large extent illegal in the Maldives.

Family Court Chief Judge Hassan Saeed said in April that there was no basis in Islamic Sharia to argue that officially registering marriages was not a legal requirement.

“You cannot say it is okay to perform a marriage hiding inside a room with two random witnesses [to whom] you give some treat,” he told local media.


Police deny arresting worshippers at Dharumavantha mosque

No additional reporting by missing journalist Ahmed Rilwan

Police have denied arresting six men yesterday from an independent prayer congregation at the Dharumavantha mosque in Malé, despite media reports to the contrary.

“Reports in some media [outlets] about police arresting people who performed Friday prayers in an independent congregation at the Dharumavantha mosque [on October 3] were published irresponsibly in an attempt to mislead the public,” police insisted in a press release yesterday.

On Wednesday (October 1), police arrested a 34-year-old man for leading an independent prayer congregation and delivering unauthorised Friday sermons at the mosque.

The Imam was taken into custody with an arrest warrant on charges of “attempting to incite religious strife and discord” and leading prayers without authorisation from the Islamic ministry in violation of the Protection of Religious Unity Act of 1994 and regulations under the law.

Police stressed in yesterday’s press release that no further arrests have been made.

“And no one has been summoned to the police headquarters for questioning concerning this case,” police said

Police were not active in the area and no attempts were made to prevent the independent congregation from performing Friday prayers, the press release stated.

Local media reported eyewitness as saying that the Friday prayer was led by former opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed Rasheed ‘Kubey’ while a loudspeaker or megaphone was provided by Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party activist Mohamed ‘Eagle’ Shareef.

Both Kubey and Shareef have reportedly been attending the mosque regularly for Friday prayers.

A member of the independent congregation told online news outlet CNM that the mosque’s sound system has not been seen since the Imam was arrested.

“Today the govt acted against radicals but MDP stepped in & helped them spread their message. I thought we were together in this fight,” Home Minister Umar Naseer tweeted late afternoon on Friday.

“MDP will have to decide whether to be with us or with them,” he added.

MDP Chairperson Ali Waheed was not responding to calls at the time of press.

At a press conference last month, Naseer revealed that efforts were underway to stop the independent congregation gathering at Dharumavantha mosque.

“Putting a stop to it is not just physically going there and stopping them sometimes with shields. Due to the nature of the [issue], we want to advise them and explain to them how it is in religion,” Naseer said.

The Islamic ministry had summoned members of the separatist prayer group and conducted “one-to-one” counselling sessions, Naseer revealed.

“Unless all these efforts fail, we will not use the force of law,” Naseer said.

Religious unity

Police noted in a statement last week that the Dharumavantha mosque was not among mosques designated in Malé for Friday prayers.

“And those delivering sermons and issuing fatwas there have not sought authorisation from the Islamic ministry,” police said.

Under the religious unity regulations enacted in May 2010, permission and written approval must be sought from the Islamic ministry to preach, give sermons and issue religious edicts in the Maldives.

Scholars seeking a license to preach are required to have at least a first degree in religious studies from an institution recognised by the government.

In April, President Abdulla Yameen ratified amendments to the Religious Unity Act – which came into force mid-July – outlawing independent or unauthorised prayer congregations.

The penalty for violations of either the law or the regulations is a jail sentence of between two to five years.

In February this year, the Malé City Council posted a notice on the Dharumavantha mosque stating that it would be temporarily shut down at the request of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The prayer group had been described as “extremist” by Islamic Minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed.

However, the congregation gathered for prayers the next Friday and prayed for God to destroy the government as well as for victory against the “irreligious” government that was attempting to “obstruct the spreading of Allah’s message”.

The Imam also prayed for God to destroy and send his wrath upon military and police officers who implement the government’s orders.

Despite the notice, the group continued to gather for prayers at the mosque and conduct Friday prayers every weekend at a time earlier than the time set by the Islamic ministry.

Local media reported last month that the Dharumavantha mosque’s Imam accused the government in a Friday prayer sermon of declaring “war” against the congregation.

A prayer was also offered against the government’s alleged efforts against the “true invitation” and for Allah to strike fear into the hearts of police and army officers who might be used stop the unauthorised congregation.