Religious NGO Islamic Foundation of the Maldives (IFM) has filed a case at the High Court requesting the court rule that the Religious Unity Regulations are inconsistent with the constitution.
Controversial new religious unity regulations were published in the government’s gazette last week, cracking down on extremist and unlicensed preaching of Islam in the Maldives.
Local media reported that prominent religious scholar Sheikh Ibrahim Fareed, who currently faces charges for allegedly violating the Religious Unity Act, filed the case in the High Court and spoke to the media outside the court.
Media reported Sheikh Fareed as stating that the regulation was inconsistent with the constitution as well as the Quran.
Fareed was quoted as saying that romantic thoughts, social talks and religious speeches were part of the fundamental right of freedom of speech as stated in the constitution.
Meanwhile, religious NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf and the religious council of the Adhaalath Party voiced opposition to the regulations.
Sheikh Fareed today told Minivan News that the regulation was “very” inconsistent with the Quran and the constitution.
“By God’s will next week I will request the High Court issue a court order to delay the implementation of the regulation until the court reaches to a conclusion on the issue,” Sheikh Fareed said. “The regulation was drafted by the Islamic Ministry and it pressured the government to publish it in the gazette.”
Media Coordinator of the protest and Chairman of Miladhoo Island Council Hassan Gassan told Minivan News that the protest started at 4:15pm today.
“The protest is organised by the IFM Miladhoo Wing and a huge majority of the islanders have joined the protest,” he said. “We walked around the main streets of the island and stopped at the island harbor.”
He said protesters were calling for the resignation of Islamic Minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari, and to amend the Religious Unity Regulations.
New religious unity regulations were published in the government’s gazette last week, cracking down on extremist and unlicensed preaching of Islam in the Maldives.
The regulations reflect the enforcement of the Religious Unity Act of 1994 and were originally put forward by the Islamic Ministry, but have undergone numerous drafts and revisions over the past year. The penalty for violating the regulations under the Act is 2-5 years imprisonment, banishment or house arrest.