Police advise precautionary measures against theft during Eid holidays

Police have advised residents of Malé to take precautionary measures to avoid theft if they leave their homes unattended during the upcoming Eid holidays.

In a press release today, police advised residents of the capital who plan on leaving for the holidays to secure valuable belongings, lock all cupboards and rooms, and inform both a reliable person and the nearest police station of their absence.

The Eid al-Adha begins tomorrow and government offices are expected to be closed next week.

Police said patrols in the capital would be stepped up to ensure security during the holidays.

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President addresses nation on Eid-al-Adha, expresses doubt over fairness of upcoming election

President Dr Mohamed Waheed has today said he will not be backing any particular candidate in the election rerun scheduled for Saturday (October 19), while highlighting what he claimed was “room for doubt” over the integrity and fairness of this year’s polls.

Speaking via local media on the occasion of Eid-al-Adha today, President Waheed, who this week announced he would not be contesting in Saturday’s election, said all Maldivians would share the success of the winning candidate.

During the now defunct presidential poll held on September 7, President Waheed obtained 5.13 percent of the popular vote, finishing last of the four candidates contesting.

The president was quoted in local media as refusing to accept that he had only taken just over 5 percent of the ballot that was annulled by the Supreme Court.

“There are some people who believe that, since it was decided that I gained only five percent of votes in the election, I have no right to speak for the Maldivian people. I don’t accept that, because it is the result of a void election, and because given my post, every action I take affects a large group Maldivian people,” he was quoted as saying in Sun Online.

The outgoing president said that it remained the duty of all Maldivian heads of state “to bring happiness and joy in to the hearts of the people, and to save them from the uneasiness and conflict that has engulfed the country”, according to a summary of his speech provided by the President’s Office.

Dr Waheed, who was elected to office as vice president in the country’s first democratic multi-party election in 2008 as the running mate of former President Mohamed Nasheed, took office himself on February 7, 2012 on the back of a mutiny by sections of the police and military.

Waheed became the president in a controversial transfer of power, alleged by Nasheed to have been a “coup d’etat” orchestrated by his then vice president and political opponents

Addressing the nation on greater Eid – Eid al Adha – President Waheed said the best care had been taken of the “treasure” Maldivian citizens had trusted him with five years ago.

However, questioning the integrity of the election currently scheduled to be held on Saturday (October 19), he claimed that division and vengeance was now widespread in society, adding that it had now become very difficult to differentiate between fact and fabrication.

The election on September 7, which saw an 88 percent voter turnout, was unanimously considered credible and democratic by more than 1000 local and international election observers, before the country’s Supreme Court annulled the vote over allegations of voter irregularities.

According to the President’s Office, unspecified individuals were now creating conflict and hatred in society for the purpose of political gain, though no further clarification was given on the comments.

“However much you deny it, the truth would still be the truth. However much you try to defend it, a lie would still be a lie,” stated the outgoing president, whose term is constitutionally set to end on November 11 this year.

Former President Nasheed was the front runner with 45.45 percent of the vote. Meanwhile, Dr Waheed’s own former election running mate, (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali Leader, has said he is now backing Nasheed in Saturday’s election.

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Maldives’ celebrates Eid with record number of goats sacrificed

This year’s Eid celebrations in the Maldives saw the holiday’s traditional prayers and feasting accompanied by a record number of goats slaughtered in the capital Malé.

The Islamic Foundation of Maldives (IFM) arranged for the importing and slaughter of over 175 goats on Thursday, a record number for a country in which this large-scale practice was uncommon just a few years ago.

Signs appeared around the capital in the days leading up to the holiday advertising the ‘uluhiya’, or slaughter – a word previously unfamiliar in the Dhivehi lexicon – providing a telephone number for anyone who wanted to join in the festivities.

A representative of the IFM explained that the organisation had surpassed its previous efforts this year after its founding in 2009.

“In 2010, we only had 20 goats. In 2011, we slaughtered 80 goats and two cows,” he explained.

“Next Eid we will slaughter a camel – this will be good for the public as it will be the first time this has been done.”

Combined with the activities of other Islamic organisations in the country – most notably the Jamiyyathul Salaf – the number of animals sacrificed came to well over 200.

Traditional practice dictates that the animals be slaughtered by having their throats cut, before the body is drained of blood. After this, the animal is cut up with some meat divided amongst friends and family and some distributed to the poor and needy.

The foundation member explained that, owing to the relative affluence of the Maldives , it was difficult to determine needy individuals and so the meat was distributed to whoever was in attendance.

Local media reported that some meat was being sold for MVR 400 a piece (US$25), but the IFM member said he did not know about this, saying: “Selling [the meat] is not encouraged.”

He explained that, due to the practice being uncommon to the Maldives, Bangladeshis were employed to do the butchery after the animal was killed, although locals were given the opportunity to cut the animal’s throat themselves if they had paid for the animal first.

Goats are often kept in the Maldives’ smaller islands but are an unusual sight in the capital. They are often sacrificed in naming ceremonies.

“People who bought the animals were given the opportunity to slaughter them,” he said, explaining that the animals cost around MVR 3500-4000 (US$227 – US$260) each to purchase in Male, more than double their cost prior to shipping from India.

“When sacrificing, the condition is to kill it at once without damaging or hurting in any other way,” he said, adding that the animals were prevented from seeing the others being slaughtered and that they were adequately fed and watered before the sacrifice.

“I find it hard to watch,” he added, “but others come and watch it for entertainment.”

The animals were brought into the country three days prior to the sacrifice, being kept near to the petrol shed on the south of the island before being sacrificed on an adjacent plot of land.

The foundation member said that three goats had given birth after being brought to the country, making them unsuitable for sacrifice.

Those animals that were not bought and slaughtered by individuals were sacrificed on behalf of the foundation. The IFM then arranged for a large feast at the nearby Maafanu Madrassa for which 2,000 people were expected. Inclement weather on the day was blamed for the smaller attendance – estimated at around 1,200.

The act of sacrifice and the giving away of the meat – practiced throughout the Muslim world – is intended to symbolise the Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his only son to show his obedience to Allah.

The IFM was founded with the stated aim of raising Islamic awareness and organising social activities within the Islamic framework in order to “ensure the religious and social development of each and every individual of Maldivian society,” according to its website.

The Maldives has embraced Islam with increasing fervour in recent years. The 2008 constitution saw the practice of Sunni Islam become mandatory for Maldivian citizens as well the establishment of a state ministry to handle Islamic affairs.

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Hajj attendance continues to rise among Maldivians: Islamic Ministry

A growing number of Maldivians are showing interest in taking part in the annual Hajj pilgrimage that kicked off yesterday, meaning both big business and a few logistical headaches for the private groups selected to oversee the holy visit to Saudi Arabia, says the Islamic Ministry.

Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Mohamed Didi, told Minivan News that the 1402 pilgrims travelling from the Maldives to Mecca in Saudi Arabia represents a year-on-year growth of local people present during the fifth pillar of Islam – a key requirement of the national faith.

A total of 1142 pilgrims travelled from the Maldives last year for the Hajj, with Saudi officials estimating that about 2.5 million participants were in attendance overall during the 2009 pilgrimage.

Didi says that after originally obtaining a quota for 1000 Maldivians to travel out to Mecca this year, the Islamic Ministry has since been granted an additional 500 places at the last minute after requests to Saudi Arabian authorities to help meet what he says has been increasingly strong interest in attending the event.

However, the last minute nature of this extension has caused some challenges for organisers, according to the ministry. Considering the need for the eight private groups entrusted with arranging pilgrimages from the Maldives to secure transport, accommodation and other travel services, the Permanent Secretary claims that not all this quota has been filled this year due to insufficient planning time.

“Normally a group will rent an apartment [for the pilgrimage] two to three months ahead of Hajj,” added Didi. “This creates an extra burden [for organisers]”.

Alongside the private groups and business that are selected to organise and oversee the Hajj pilgrimage, the government is itself allocated 10 spaces to select participants from across the civil and public service sector to travel to Mecca. Islamic Minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari is leading the Maldives’ delegation at present.

The Hajj, as one of the five pillars of Islam, is viewed as key a religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out by all able-bodied followers at least once in their lifetime, should they be able to afford the trip. According to Didi, the cost per person for taking part in this year’s pilgrimage is thought to be about Rf 65,000 (US $5000).

For those not able to make their way to Mecca this year though, Didi says that the country will be spending the day fasting and praying ahead of Eid Al Adha beginning tomorrow, an event that will see a number of roads around the capital being closed to accommodate worshippers.

Half of the ground floor of the Islamic Centre by Republic Square in Male’ will also be set aside exclusively for women during prayers, the Ministry added.

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