Police are reported to have concluded investigations into an imam accused of giving unauthorised sermons at Malé’s Dharumavantha Mosque.
Sun Online reports that the case has been sent to the Prosecutor General’s Office after a 34-year-old man was taken into custody for leading an independent prayer congregation on September 30.
He stands charged of of “attempting to incite religious strife and discord,” said police, 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.
Home Minster Umar Naseer has pledged to stop the congregation meeting at the mosque. The gatherings, deemed “extremist” by the Islamic Minister, have continued even after being temporarily shut down in February by Malé City Council.
Reports that police had arrested worshippers at the mosque earlier this month were denied by police, however, who accused media outlets of attempting to mislead the public.
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 amendments will also bring all mosques under the central administration of the Islamic ministry from November 1.
The penalty for violations of either the law or the regulations is a jail sentence of between two to five years.