Islanders of Naifaru in Lhaviyani Atoll gathered in front of the island council office to protest today after the island council invalidated all preaching licenses issued by the Islamic Ministry.
An islander told Minivan News that the council announced Thursday that all preaching licenses issued by the Islamic Ministry had been invalidated and scholars who wish to preach or give religious lectures would have to seek permission from the council.
“That is definitely a decision made against Sheikh Ibrahim Rasheed,” he claimed. “We know that because there is this one councilor named Mohamed Ali – who was a former fisherman and who does not have any educational background – holds a personal grudge against the Sheikh, this is his doing.”
He further claimed that the councilor had recently sent a letter to the Islamic Ministry complaining that the Sheikh has been showing young children pornographic pictures containing instructions for performing sexual intercourse.
“Today we gathered near the council office to meet with the councilors and a delegation of us met with them and the councilors have now withdrawn the decision,” he said. “We had 50 islanders gathered near the council, we are all very disappointed because the Sheikhs have said they will not preach unless they gave the permission, Sheikhs said it was obligatory to obey leaders.”
He said that islanders viewed the decision of the council as an attempt to prevent scholars from preaching.
However Naifaru Island Council Chair Ahmed Hussein claimed that the Adhaalath Party’s Naifaru Wing had politicised the issue to attack the council.
“We issued a notice to avoid usage of assets in the mosques, such as mics, speakers without the permission of the council,” Hussain said. “We did not say that all the licenses issued by the Islamic Ministry were invalidated.”
Hussain added that the councilors of the island were always available to the public but the protesters had issued false press releases and distributed flyers through the island to incite hatred against councillors.
“If they had an issue why had they not come to us and discuss it, we are on the same island and we are always available,” he said.
He explained that during the meeting with the delegation from protesters today, the council made it clear that licenses were not invalidated and that the notice was made regarding use of equipment at the mosque without permission.