The police have confirmed some foreigners in Male’ were detained as a “security” measure, prior to the mass religious rally on December 23.
Violent outbreaks and confrontations were speculated to take place during a religious rally organised by NGO’s and opposition parties “to defend Islam” in the Maldives and another led by ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to exhibit support for a “moderate Islam”.
Contrary to speculation, the protests proceeded peacefully.
Sub- Inspector of Police Ahmed Shiyam said the foreigners were arrested before the protest and were released afterwards.
Shiyam did not specify the number of foreigners arrested and their nationality.
“We brought them under police custody as part of security measures taken during the protest. All of them have now been released,” Shiyam said.
Minivan News has learned that the arrested foreigners included Pakistanis and people of two other nationalities who had arrived in the Maldives on tourist visas. They were detained on suspicion of participating in the religious rally, according to a source.
Controller for Immigration and Emigration Abdullah Shahid told Minivan News that “there was a high number of Pakistanis coming into the country at the time” of protest.
Shahid noted it was part of the security procedure to investigate inconsistencies in arrival rates.
Meanwhile, religious groups in Maldives have been accused of using funds from extremist groups in Pakistan to finance their activities locally.
India’s The Hindu reported last week that Maldives believed Pakistani money was helping extremists, according to a top source.
However spokesperson for the religious coalition, Abdullah Mohamed, rejected the accusations and said that they have not taken any money from foreign organisations.
“We are funding our activities through donations by our supporters,” he added.
He also added that he is unaware of any foreigners who came to Maldives to participate in the protest or their arrest.
According to him a few Maldivians living in Sri Lanka and India came to Male’ for the protests.