The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party carried out protests across the country on Friday under the banner “Maldivians for Justice,” calling for the release of former President Mohamed Nasheed.
Demonstrations took place from Haa Dhaalu Kulhudhufushi and Raa Meedhoo in the north to the Addu City in the south. Hundreds of supporters in capital Malé offered a special prayer at the Islamic Center after Friday prayers, and thousands participated in a protest march at 9:30pm.
Speaking at an opposition march for the first time, MP Ahmed Mahloof said: “Former President Nasheed is loved by thousands of Maldivians and his jailing will not bring any gain to President Yameen.”
The MP for Galolhu South was expelled from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives for allegedly defaming President Abdulla Yameen.
Mahloof accused the government of prosecuting the opposition leader as well as former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim in a conspiracy to eliminate political opponents.
He also praised MDP MP Ismail Fayyaz, who was arrested from a protest and is being held in remand detention after he refused to accept the Criminal Court’s condition of not participating in protests for 60 days.
A motorcycle rally took place in Kulhudhufushi in the afternoon, whilst hundreds wearing black gathered for a rally at the Feydhoo harbor in the southernmost Addu City.
— Hassantay2019 (@HassantayMDP) March 21, 2015
— Rashu Meehaa (@rashumeehaa) March 20, 2015
— Luke (@Lucasjalyl) March 20, 2015
Earlier in the day, hundreds of MDP supporters participated in a special prayer outside the Islamic Centre after Friday prayers.
“Brutality reigns in our country. Justice abolished. O Allah! May our country be saved from the brutality of our rulers, and may we be taken to safer shores,” the prayer stated.
“Our beloved leader, a man loved by a majority of us, Mohamed Nasheed, has been unjustly sentenced and imprisoned. He has suffered and continues to suffer. O Allah! Save Mohamed Nasheed from this brutality.”
The prayer gathering prompted Home Minister Umar Naseer to call for police action against usng mosques and surrounding areas to “make political statements.”
Mosques & its surrounding prayer areas must not be used to make political statements. Police must take action against this.
— Umar Naseer (@UmarNaseerPPM) March 20, 2015
The MDP condemned Naseer’s “warning” in a statement today, describing the tweet as “shocking.”
“Mosques are used for worship and prayer. The acts of brutality in the Maldives are prohibited and praying to be saved from such acts is encouraged in Islam. We see interfering with citizens of a Muslim country’s praying and threatening them as this government’s brutality getting to a whole new level,” read the statement.