The President of the Islamic Foundation of the Maldives (IFM) Ibrahim Fauzy has called on the authorities to withdraw charges against Sheikh Ibrahim Fareed Ahmed, after he appeared in the Criminal Court charged for violating the former Religious Unity Act.
The Court alleged that Sheikh Fareed had preached on some islands without permission from the government authorities in 2007.
Sheikh Fareed was summoned to the Criminal Court today and was given the chance to respond to the charges.
”The former Religious Unity Act is contradictory to the new constitution, it is not acceptable to charge Sheikh Fareed over this issue,” said Fauzy. ”It is all related to politics. The former government confiscated his permission to preach, and later he only spoke at political rallies when he was in the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).”
Sheikh Fareed was arrested alongside many MDP delegates while he was aboard a boat traveling from Thinadhoo in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll in the year 2007, said Fauzy.
”Perhaps he sometimes gave advice to people at political rallies, but that cannot be considered preaching,” he said. ”It is a political matter, not a religious issue.”
Sheikh Fareed told Minivan News today that he was not sure about the nature of the charges against him.
”They are saying that I preached without the permission of authorities,” said Sheikh Fareed. ”I have requested the Criminal Court provide me details of the case.”
Sheikh Fareed said that he could only be certain of the case when he received the documents from the court.
On January 25, 2007, local newspaper ‘Miadhu’ reported that Sheikh Fareed was arrested moments after he walked out of ‘Ibrahimi Mosque’ after concluding Isha preayers.
Miadhu then reported that he was arrested for allegedly taking part in a demonstration that took place in Male.
Later on March 17, 2007, Miadhu reported that he was released from house arrest, kept in Maafushi jail for a few days, and then returned to house arrest.
Furthermore, Sheikh Fareed was arrested several times during the former regime for his participation in anti-governmental protests.
According to the local media, he was also once charged with terrorism but was released after the court found him innocent.
In 2007 he was the former vice president of MDP religious council but resigned after alleging that the party was against Islam.