Police arrest Imam of unauthorised independent prayer congregation

No additional reporting by missing journalist Ahmed Rilwan

Police have arrested a 34-year-old man for leading an unauthorised independent prayer congregation and delivering Friday prayer sermons at the Dharumavantha mosque in Malé.

The suspect was taken into custody on Tuesday night (September 30) on charges of “attempting to incite religious strife and discord,” said police, and leading prayers without authorisation from the Islamic ministry in violation of the Protection of Religious Unity Act of 1994 and regulations under the law.

“Despite being summoned to the police headquarters and being repeatedly advised and told to cease [leading the independent congregation], he gave religious sermons without permission at the Dharumavantha mosque and attempted to create religious divisions in the country,” police said in a statement yesterday.

The Criminal Court yesterday granted an extension of remand detention for five days.

“The Dharumavantha mosque is not among mosques designated in Malé for Friday prayers. And those delivering sermons and issuing fatwas there have not sought authorisation from the Islamic ministry,” police noted.

The case is under investigation by the police serious and organised crime department.

At a press conference on September 24, Home Minister Umar Naseer said efforts were underway to stop the independent congregation gathering at Dharumavantha mosque.

“Putting a stop to it is not just physically going there and stopping them sometimes with shields. Due to the nature of the [issue], we want to advise them, explain to them how it is in religion, and do all that,” Naseer told the press.

The Islamic ministry had summoned members of the separatist prayer group and conducted “one-to-one” counselling sessions, Naseer revealed.

“Unless all these efforts fail, we will not use the force of law,” Naseer said.

Religious unity

In February this year, the Malé City Council posted a notice on the Dharumavantha mosque stating that it would be temporarily shut down at the request of the Ministry of Home Affairs to stop unauthorised Friday prayers.

The prayer group has been described as “extremist” by Islamic Minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed.

However, the independent congregation gathered for prayers the next Friday and prayed for God to destroy the government and for victory against the “irreligious” government that was attempting to “obstruct the spreading of Allah’s message”.

The Imam also prayed for God to destroy and send his wrath upon military and police officers who implement the government’s orders.

Despite the notice, the group continued to gather for prayers at the mosque and conduct Friday prayers every weekend at a time earlier than the time set by the Islamic ministry.

Local media reported last month that the Dharumavantha mosque’s Imam accused the government in a Friday prayer sermon of declaring “war” against the congregation.

A prayer was also offered against the government’s alleged efforts against the “true invitation” and for Allah to strike fear into the hearts of police and army officers who might be used stop the unauthorised congregation.

Under the religious unity regulations enacted in May 2010, permission and written approval must be sought from the Islamic ministry to preach, give sermons and issue religious edicts in the Maldives.

Scholars seeking a license to preach are required to have at least a first degree in religious studies from an institution recognised by the government.

In April, President Abdulla Yameen ratified amendments to the Religious Unity Act – which came into force mid-July – outlawing independent or unauthorised prayer congregations.

The penalty for violations of either the law or the regulations is a jail sentence of between two to five years.

former member of the Dharumavantha mosque congregation told Minivan News in February that shutting down the mosque or arresting the members of congregation would be ill-advised.

“You can’t change what people believe using force. Under [former President Maumoon Abdul] Gayoom, I was arrested and kept in solitary confinement for weeks and sometimes months for praying in separate congregations and being involved with such groups. If anything, my convictions became even stronger and my thinking more radicalised,” he said.

Under the administration of former President Mohamed Nasheed, the government’s policy in combating extremism shifted to a rehabilitation model.

In 2010, President Nasheed decided to commute the sentences of 16 people convicted for their part in a violent confrontation between the security services and a separatist prayer group in Himandhoo.

More than 50 people were arrested in October 2007 after islanders donned red motorcycle helmets and armed themselves with batons and knives to defend the Dhar al Khuir mosque.

Police had been searching for suspects in the Maldives’ first Islamist terror investigation following a bomb blast in Sultan Park that injured 12 tourists.

Questioning the success of the appeasement or conciliatory efforts, however, Shaheem – who had earlier advocated for a similar model – had labelled it a failure.


30 thoughts on “Police arrest Imam of unauthorised independent prayer congregation”

  1. 'The Imam also prayed for God to destroy and send his wrath upon military and police officer who implement the government’s orders'

    Isn't this what the MDP does too.. or is it a little different..?

  2. MDP and Nasheed is behind Imam . They are the people who supporting the Imam to carry his duty .

    Nasheed is supporting him since Nasheed does not want Maldives to have any peace and he always want violence and protests to happen in this country.

    Man of violence is now in UK and we can expect another bloody lies coming out in UK media shirt.

    Maldivian Government should charged UK " Independent News" for the recent article published by them which was not a true story about ISIS in Maldives. UK daily news should report news after having solid information of such accuses .

  3. While PPM and MDP continues bickering, the country is taken over by Taliban..

    See how smart both Nasheed and Gayoom are.. Soon none of them would be relevant in Maldives

    But still the bickering would go on..

  4. @Hero

    Today your english is at its worst.Please stop commenting in english,rather switch to Dhivehi,then at least what you are trying to say can be projected much better.Then we can laugh at you for your stupidity

  5. This government have tried to stop this though with no effect. And the agenda behind this separation seems to have been growing and budding day by day! And the motive behind this will be best to known to those involved and the Creator!
    But, who was behind who, and voicing what was not in Islam, seem to have been best seen within the 20 odd days of rioting before the coup that brought down a ruler appointed by a vote of the peoples!

  6. @ hero
    Being a troll does not get you anywhere. But being a total retard, might get others attention. So if you are a retard, could you do it a little less moronic ?

  7. It's true, you cannot people's beliefs by force. One man's jihadi is another man's terrorist...

    However misguided we may think these people are, locking them up isn't the solution either. Must tackle the root problem!

  8. @MissIndia.
    Last week your great democracy had out 5 year old child was locked in a dog cage for talking to a classmate while in the class .

    This is how far you go with human rights .

    Pls. stop meddling with Maldives and do clean up your own lousy country issues first.

    When Gov . was trying to address this issue without arresting anyone, Nasheed and his gangs were shouting about doing nothing, But behind the scene , Nasheed was supporting Imam to continue to perform the friday prayers separately .

    This double face guy will do anything with the hope of becoming President of this country.

    He thinks british and Indian will put him the seat .

  9. Today there was no Imam and some hardcore MDP activists were very active there and demanded for the rights of this separatist group to have the freedom to perform thier Friday prayer there.

    This is why we are saying Nasheed and his Gangs are behind this extremism and they are the people who are doing this to this country .

    I am sure Nasheed and MDP thugs will come up with hundreds of excesses and will not even agree that those were thier activist who were shouting during prayer time.

  10. Aww, lookit Hero stabbing his fellow 'dheenee' people in the back now that their usefulness is done.

    It sure warms my heart to see the Coalition of the Hated fall apart.

  11. Hero take a hike from this forum people are sick of your demented views.You seem to be sufering from Paranoia(delusion schizoid paranoia about nasheed),better to go see a shrink

  12. Gayoom and his People are very scaired of Muslms praying for their right. Because Sihuru casting people are not muslims.

  13. Why is it that the MDP wants these seperatists to be protected when they themselves preach about the growing threat of extremism on our home soil ? Truth is that religious seperatists and extremism were much better controlled during Gayoom's era, until Anni came and played blindly with the reins.

  14. This is lack of good leadership, this is simply against freedom, hate preachers should be free as long as they don’t use violence. Also there should not be any limit for freedom of speech, there should not be intimidation and arrest simply when somebody talks anything, just arrest those who use violence, The problems starts when somebody physically hurts someone. Give freedom to speak whatever anyone wants and it is for people to tolerate or ignore what they don’t like. Fish Rajje should get used to listening, if you want stop real damage to your hearing; just stop that invasion of motorcycles to your 2 SQ KM tiny capital. Be real people instead of some brainless zombies.

  15. Hero is correct MDP has behind all of this to put fake Muslims out there at behest of Nasheed. MDP itself is a extremist group that has to been dealt with by Police before things become worse.

  16. @Nova: Nasheed gave them human rights. They stabbed Nasheed in the back and climbed into bed with the Maumoonists. Now the Maumoonists have stabbed them in the back and the only safe harbor for the 'dheenee people' is the very man they betrayed in their greed.

    That is called divine punishment.

  17. With citizens like Hero and Kashim, your future looks bleak.
    Are there no secure asylums in Maldives where like minded morons can be locked up for the public good?

    As a secular Hindu I feel so civilised compared to you Neanderthals. Keep at it, you may reach our level of political maturity in another hundred years.

  18. MissIndia, go play fetch for your master USA and Israel. India has no ability, just now Modi goes begging to corrupt US for business and Israel has infected universities in India with so called "centers of excellence" agreement bringing hundreds Israeli professors to brainwash India University.

  19. @ Kashim
    We play fetch to our US masters just as you play fetch to your Saudi masters. We Indians have a lot in common with the US and Israel. We are all secular democracies. What the hell do we have in common with you primitive people?
    We supply the world, including Maldives, with doctors, engineers and IT professionals. Our Mars probe went into orbit on its first attempt. We have one of the fastest growing economies in the world with millions of well educated, well travelled and affluent people, like me!! Only a semi literate moron like you would say India has no ability.
    Israeli tourists and professors are welcome in India. What we really need is an Israeli trained outfit like Mossad so we can deal with imbeciles like you.
    Don't bite the hand that feeds you. Maldives survives on cheap imports from India and by exploiting its poor expat workers.

  20. @kashim
    The only brainwashing taking place is getting heard from people like you. You islamists are a nuisance to Maldives. Either way, people are not stupid enough to let a bigoted idiotic mullah lead them to jihadh. Our children will learn from the best international universities while you are teaching your children what they should do and not do with their genitalia.

  21. @MissIndia

    This confirms to me the evil of you and India, you love for Mossad which is the epic-center of evil in earth. If you love India you must expel Israel "centers for excellence" before Zionism controls the economy of India... instead India must worked with Muslim population and Muslim scholar from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia - University of Madinah.

    India is the nation of poverty and immorality because it has turned against Islam, joining with Zionism and US and I am afraid it became to late to save!! You can apply maybe for refugee one day in Maldives. 🙂

  22. @asstar, actually this apply to you but than again, you can not wash something that does not exists in your case!

  23. @Kashim
    what were you just saying? you cannot use something that isn't there. Does "brain" Ring a bell to you? Ha ha guess not!

    India is the nation of poverty and immorality because it has turned against Islam? work with Pakistan? first of all, the whole world hates Pakistan including Maldives. You cannot have your stupid ideologies implemented in Maldives just because you wanted to be a fa***t. The majority of Maldives is free thinkers and in the end, we will win!!. We will Erase your ideologies and people like you spreading hatred will be locked up!
    You are just Uttering plain nonsense and the people around you hates you. why don't you take a hike?

  24. @missIndia

    You shpuld aware that right now there are five PHD professor from so call Israel in India and this is some of the top professor in Israel. Why does Israel send them? Does Israhell concern for India? What a joke!

    They have specialty in agriculture, microprocessor design and economy by allow them in they are to control these sector of India economy and India will be the slave to zionism.

  25. @asstar

    All true maldives love Pakistan as a fellow Muslim nation. Every year thousand Maldive children travelled for Madrassa education in Pakistan and gain the knowledge and scholarship in Islam to defend against the paid foreign agent such add you.

  26. Madhrasa education? Hahaha that just made my day!!
    Maldives doesn't give a sh*t about Pakistan. Those bearded nincompoops are nothing but idiots. Killing fellow Muslims in the name of jihadh and marrying 6 year old kids is their only purpose in life. People like you should go for jihadh instead of being a nuisance to Maldives and wasting good web space.

  27. Kashim on Sun, 12th Oct 2014 5:31 AM

    Madhrasa and education in the same sentence.............you are so funny, you should be a world class comic.


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