Controversial blogger Ismail ‘Hilath’ Rasheed was arrested this evening for his involvement in last Saturday’s ‘silent protest’ for religious tolerance, which turned ended in violent after several individuals attacked the group with stones. Hilath was taken to the hospital with head injuries.
According to the Sub Inspector Ahmed Shiyam, Hilath was arrested under a Criminal Court order issued today.
Rasheed’s arrest follows the blocking of his blog by the Communications Authority of the Maldives (CAM) on the order of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. The Ministry made the request on the grounds that the site contained anti-Islamic material.
Police are currently interrogating some of the approximately 30 individuals who gathered at Artificial Beach on Saturday. Calls for an investigation of the protest were made by religious conservative Adhaalath party, NGO Jamiyyathu Salaf, and ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik.
While pursuing its investigation of the protest for religious tolerance, police have also summoned the developer of the website 23December.com, which this week published slogans calling for the murder of anti-Islamic activists in what organisers later described as a “technical mistake”.
Developer Ali Ahsan told Haveeru that police wanted to understand who was responsible for the website’s conception, development and published material.
“The police also questioned whether those inappropriate phrases or those slogans [calling for the killing of people] were present when the information was published on the website,” he said.
Ahsan, who also edits online publication DhiIslam, said police had confiscated the hard drive used for the development of 23December.com, Haveeru reports.
The investigation into the aggressive error began yesterday, when police questioned Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla and Civil Coalition official Abdulla Mohamed over the death threats.
Sheikh Imran and Mohamed did not speak directly to the press, however their lawyer, former State Minister of Islamic Ministry Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, confirmed that police asked them about the slogans published on the website.
Shaheem said that slogans calling for murder were not on the website when it was launched, adding that the “content were manipulated by some people spying on the website”.
Abdullah, who is the lead organiser of the the protest, also told Minivan News on Tuesday that the team had not seen the slogans calling for murder until the day after the launch. ”We corrected the mistake as soon as it was brought to our notice,” Abdullah said.
He said the slogans were earlier attributed as a “mistake on technical team’s side” after they identified some loop holes in the website security, adding that their “suspicions were confirmed” when the website was hacked on Tuesday morning.
President’s Office Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair today issued a statement blaming organisers of the 23 December demonstration for disrupting public order to achieve “hidden agendas”.
He said he not believe that removing the violent slogans from the promotional website was sufficient proof of non-violent intentions.