Thousands of Maldivians marched in Malé on Tuesday night against the continuing Israeli offensive in Gaza.
The march set off from the Social Center and ended with a prayer for the Palestinian people in front of the stadium. Event organizer Hamna Waheed said approximately 13,000 people participated in the rally.
“It was more successful than we expected. We are planning further activities such a fair for children and for disabled children to express solidarity. We will also be sending the prayer and materials to all the islands in the Maldives,” she said.
“We are also going to hold discussions with NGOs, Palestine Brotherhood and Islamic Foundation to see what the Maldivian government can do to help.”
The rally received cross party support and was attended by several women and children.
The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party also held a separate rally on Saturday night in solidarity with Gaza and condemning government inaction on the issue.
Home Minister Umar Naseer has asked the Maldives Police Services to investigate participants for gathering against the law in front of Islamic Minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed’s residence. The 2012 Freedom of Assembly Act prohibits protests against individuals at their private residences, the ministry said.
The MDP condemned Naseer’s “unconstitutional order” and said it is an attempt to undermine the right to peaceful assembly and expression.
“Home Minister Umar Naseer’s unconstitutional order is widely seen as a reaction to appease the government’s inability to digest the MDP taking the initiative and highlighting deliberate government dithering over Israeli attacks on Gaza,” the party said in a statement on Tuesday.
Naseer himself is being prosecuted for disobedience to order for calling for protesters to storm the army headquarters in 2012, MDP noted.
The case has been stalled at the Criminal Court pending Naseer’s request for transfer of the presiding judge.
The judge in June had ordered Naseer be arrested and presented to court after the minister failed to attend three consecutive hearings.
Meanwhile, Shaheem in a tweet on July 13 said he has forgiven those who gathered outside his house and verbally abused him and made his children afraid.
MDP supporters set off from the party headquarters on Sosun Magu at 10 pm carrying placards denouncing the actions of the Israeli government and showing solidarity with the Palestinian people.
MPs and party officials delivered speeches throughout the rally, condemning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Arab countries for failure to resolve the crisis.
The party said the rally was conducted peacefully without confrontation.
“The Maldivian Democratic party had always condemned and raised its voice against foreign domination and subjugation of states as well as against murder and a slaughter of citizens. The MDP shall also be resolute and without any degree of retreat in always defending freedoms such as the right of peaceful assembly and expression,” the statement said.
Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon has called for an immediate cease-fire.
“Israel must stop the invasion of Gaza, it should stop the killing, the airstrikes, and declare a cease-fire, and start dialogue with Palestine,” she said on Saturday.