Maldivian Youth “disenfranchised and excluded”, finds World Bank report

Maldivian youth feel “disenfranchised and excluded” and “disconnected from the fabric of society” suggests a World Bank report released today.

Rising globalisation, internet use, and economic expansion has “exposed young women and men to the outside world and new ideas and values, making them acutely aware of what they can aspire to,” read the report.

“Yet, both female and male youth face the shackles of the limited island economy, lack empowerment and community engagement, and contend with rigid norms of behaviour and increasingly conservative values, as well as an inadequate education and training system that ill prepares them for the labor market.”

The report argued that these issues meant that many young Maldivians are being “denied passage into adulthood”.

Titled ‘Youth in the Maldives: Shaping a new future for young women and men through engagement and empowerment’, the report was compiled using focus groups and surveys, in order to address the “dearth of data” on young people in the country.

Physical isolation, thwarted expectations, family breakdown, and gang participation were revealed as major challenges facing 15-24 year olds, while new insights were offered into the country’s large youth unemployment problem.

The World Bank recommended a concerted national youth campaign to present a new vision of youth, an increase in preventative healthcare, and further efforts to better understand the reasons for youth unemployment.

President Abdulla Yameen has maintained a pro-youth rhetoric since his election in 2013, pledging to create 94,000 jobs for the Maldivian youth – officially recognised as being aged between aged 15-35.

As well as launching a youth unemployment register and clearing the criminal records for many youth offenders, the government has recently launched the ‘GetSet’ entrepreneurship programme, in which young people between the ages 18-25 can apply for business start-up loans.

Unemployment

The Maldives has the highest percentage of youth unemployment in the South East Asia region with 22 percent of its youth unemployed, stated the World Bank report.

It found that young people lacked socio-emotional and other skills required in the job market, but that young people expect high or unrealistic wages, leading to the “national phenomenon” of “youth voluntary unemployment”.

“Added to this reality are the perceptions and expectations of parents with regard to what is an acceptable job and wage for their children, leading to limited support and encouragement for youth to be economically active,” the report continued.

Interviews and focus groups suggested that parents were actually contributing to youth unemployment by supporting them financially so as to avoid undesirable employment.

“Findings indicate that parents would rather pay their sons and daughters not to work than to let them work in a job which they consider beneath them; a notable 50% of young people surveyed in the field-based research solely stated that they rely on their parents as their main source of income,” the report read.

The reports also noted rising inter-generational tensions as the Maldives continues to undergo rapid social transformation.

“Older generations (adults) frequently see youth as ‘unambitious,’ ‘lazy’ and ‘disconnected,’ and focused on ‘me’ rather than ‘us,’ while the younger generations, especially those young men and women who have studied or worked in Malé and beyond, see themselves as part of a global village, fast-paced and modern society, where individual aspirations over take family traditions.”

The physical isolation caused by geographical distribution of the islands was also found to present difficulty in travelling, mobility, and accessing public services leading to limited opportunities -especially for women – the report found.

Changes needed

Addressing the growing issues of gang membership in the country, the World Bank noted that young people were joining gangs for reasons including inactivity and apathy, unemployment, drug use, and “the need for young men to prove their masculinity”.

Gangs were also said to fill a need for support and social structure as well as for male role models, with high rates of divorce meaning the Maldives has one of the highest rates of female-headed households in the world (35 percent).

“A further problem is that people with drug or criminal offenses experience difficulties in reintegrating into society and finding jobs; access to counseling and rehabilitation services, especially for young people, is limited and inadequate,” the report said.

In recent years gender inequality has also worsened in the Maldives, the report continued, with civil society groups reporting “significantly increasing restrictions” on how women dress, mobility, forms of employment, and the ability to make independent decisions.

Lack of reproductive health facilities were also cited as a problem in the report, with a lack of sufficient knowledge about preventative healthcare placing young people at risk.

The report concluded by calling for a long-term strategy of broad youth empowerment.

“Engaging youth to be productive and content members of society will first and foremost require a radical shift in the way that youth are perceived and valued by adults, policy makers and society-at-large,” concluded the World Bank.

Read the full report here



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20-year-old male arrested in Mafaz murder

A 20-year-old man has been arrested over the brutal murder of Masodi gang member Ahmed Mafaz on December 7.

According to the Maldives Police Services, the man was arrested from Henveiru Bluebird in Malé under a court warrant at 3:35pm on December 9. The police also confiscated several items from the house.

Local media have identified the man to be Mohamed Midhath. He is the only individual arrested over the murder.

Mafaz, also known as ‘Masodi Mafa’, was stabbed to death at approximately 1:45am near the Alora furniture shop in Malé on December 7.

According to eyewitness reports, two men stabbed and beat up Mafaz while another group of men wielding machetes and other sharp weapons vandalised a building belonging to the Masodi gang and threatened to kill everyone inside.

The police said Mafaz died at ADK hospital while being given emergency treatment for numerous stab wounds, including fatal cuts in his neck and shoulders.

The stabbing was reported to the police at 1:45pm. Police took Mafaz to the hospital after stopping a taxi on the street.

The police on Tuesday also arrested a 16-year-old male over the fatal stabbing of 19-year-old Mohamed Aseel on August 23 and a further three men over gang violence near Billabong International School on November 16.

Aseel and two men, aged 20 and 13 years, were attacked near Iskandhar School in the Machangolhi ward of Malé.

Eyewitnesses said a group of masked men stabbed the two men in the back and struck the minor on the head before fleeing on motorbikes.

Aseel died on August 29 at the Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital. Doctors reportedly amputated his right leg in an attempt to save his life. He was stabbed six times. The other two did not suffer critical injuries.

The police had previously arrested six men and a minor over the stabbing. All remain in police custody.

The November 16 incident saw a group of men wielding machetes enter Billabong International High School following violence in front of the school. An 18-year-old was arrested from the scene.

Three men were arrested in relation to this incident at 4pm on Tuesday (December 9). They were caught hiding in a house called Aabaaru on Villimalé. They are Shaiban Zufrath, 18 years, of Malé Rosendale, Ulyan Ahmed, 19 years, of Dhambufashuvige of Gaaf Dhaal Gahdhoo Island, and Fassan Waleed, 19 years of Fahudhawadhee in Gaaf Alif Dhaandhoo Island.

Mafaz’s death marks the fifth murder this year.

The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives has submitted amendments to the law prohibiting possession of dangerous weapons – a move which some civil society groups say violates constitutional rights such as the right to remain silent and to retain legal counsel.

The amendment bill states that suspects arrested for assault with sharp objects or dangerous weapons will not be able to exercise the right to remain silent “to any extent”.

Police could also question the suspect if he or she is either unable to have an attorney present within six hours, or waives the right to retain legal counsel.

Moreover, the suspect could only consult a lawyer in the presence of a police officer for the first 96 hours after the arrest.

A joint statement by Maldivian Democracy Network and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative urged the parliament to withhold from passing the amendments saying that it would “absolutely violate rather than limit fundamental rights of the people”.

Police media yesterday reported that a number of swords were discovered hidden under a car in the Henveiru ward of the capital in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Head of Central Operations Command Ismail Naveen stated that the police have been working to curb the assaults in Malé by carrying out searches of suspicious individuals and inspecting suspicious locations.



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28-year-old man stabbed to death in gang-related violence

A 28-year-old was stabbed to death in the capital Malé in the early hours of this morning (December 7) near the People’s Majlis.

Local media identified the man as Ahmed Mafaz also known as ‘Masodi Mafaa’ from Seenu Maradhoo Island. Haveeru reported Mafaz as belonging to the Masodi gang.

A Maldives Police Service (MPS) media statement read that Mafaz died at ADK hospital while being given emergency treatment for numerous stab wounds including fatal cuts in his neck and shoulders.

An MPS official told Minivan News that the stabbing case was reported to the police at around 1.45am and that the police officers at the scene took Mafaz to the hospital after stopping a taxi on the street.

An eyewitness told online news outlet Vaguthu that he saw two men stabbing and beating up Mafaz near the Alora furniture store while another group of people wielding machetes and other sharp weapons were banging on door of  a building used by the Masodi gang’s nearby, threatening to kill everyone inside.

Haveeru commented that the injuries appeared to be even more severe than those inflicted upon Ungoofaaru MP Dr Afrasheem Ali, whose brutal murder shocked the Maldives in October 2012.

In a tweet today, former President Mohamed Nasheed accused the President Abdulla Yameen’s government of failing to investigate violent crimes.

“Over 20 cases of knife attacks and 7 murdered in such attacks this year. President Yamin’s Govt has failed to investigate these crimes,” read the tweet

While speaking at a rally held to celebrate the first anniversary of the current government, President Yameen said that his administration has established peace and order in the country.

“We have peace and order in Malé and all regions of Maldives. We have peace. However, this is not to say that isolated and significant dangerous crimes do not occur,” said President Yameen.

“Saving the Maldives from these big atrocities is the biggest aim of this government,” he added.

He also pledged to implement the death penalty – reintroduced under his government – for the sake of human rights and dignity.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has expressed concern over rising insecurity while claiming that the current administration has failed to protect right to life and security during its first year in office.

The MDP highlighted Yameen’s failure to find missing Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan. An investigation into the disappearance by a UK based private investigation firm concluded that radicalised gangs were the most likely suspects in his disappearance.

Meanwhile, ruling Progressive Party of Maldives have submitted amendments to the law prohibiting possession of dangerous weapons – a move which some civil society groups say violates constitutional rights such as the right to remain silent and to retain legal counsel.

A joint statement by Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) urged the parliament to withhold from passing the amendments saying that it would “absolutely violate rather than limit fundamental rights of the people”.

The amendment bill states that suspects arrested for assault with sharp objects or dangerous weapons will not be able to exercise the right to remain silent “to any extent”.

Police could also question the suspect if he or she is either unable to have an attorney present within six hours, or waives the right to retain legal counsel.

Moreover, the suspect could only consult a lawyer in the presence of a police officer for the first 96 hours after the arrest.

The government’s intention to narrow constitutional rights came after a spate of violent assaults in the capital – which police said were a series of gang reprisals.

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Police have completed 21,169 investigations in past 12 months

The Maldives Police Services (MPS) has said that over 21,169 cases have been investigated since November 2013, with 3,256 cases submitted to the Prosecutor General (PG)’s Office.

Spokesperson to the Commissioner of Police Superintendent Ahmed Shifan said that the service was doing all it can to ensure the protection of the public and establishing peace in the country.

It was also revealed that 257 complaints has been received this year, with 187 now being investigated. Disciplinary action has followed against 115 officers,with a further 23 being terminated from service.

“We have been working ceaselessly in implementing and upholding law and order in the country by investigating and submitting evidence to the courts” said Shifan.

Despite President Abdulla Yameen talking tough on crime, violent crime has persisted this year with a number of notable incidents – including the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan in August – remaining unresolved.

Since the 28-year-old’s presumed abduction 116 days ago, members of his family have suggested the police were using statistics to mask a failure to make real progress in the search

Shifan today outlined the importance of the police’s strategic plan for 2014- 2018 which aims to make the police force more accountable, encourage public participation in police work, and increase the operational capabilities of the force.

He pointed out that there were 77 police stations in the atolls, with 10 having come into operation this year. He also noted that traffic police are now in operation in Addu City and Haa Dhaalu Kulhudhuhfushi.

The MPS has introduced a tourist police department aimed at “ensuring the protection of tourists while they are in the Maldives in order to increase tourist confidence in the country therefore boosting toursm”, police media reported today.

Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed earlier this week suggested that were not only aiming to solve and combat crimes, but also to develop a responsible youth through the ‘Blues for Youth’ camps introduced this year.

Celebrating twelve months in office last month, President Abdulla Yameen said that peace in Malé had been obtained, barring “isolated and significant dangerous crimes”.

The opposition has suggested, however, that insecurity is on the increase as numerous gang-related stabbings have resulted in three deaths so far this year. Additionally, reported politically-motivated abductions have continued, with well-known criminal elements implicated.

The lack of progress into the investigation Rilwan’s disappearance has prompted two separate cases to be filed at the Police Integrity Commission suggesting police negligence in the investigation.

Additionally, the MPS has also been accused of participation in serious crimes with three police officers being arrested in drug busts and allegations of Special Operations (SO) officers cutting down all of Malé City’s areca palm trees.

Waheed has denied the involvement of SO officers in the areca palm incident, while he has suggested that interference from the media and friends and family of Rilwan had contributed to the police’s failure to make significant progress.



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Police not only solving crimes, but developing responsible youth: Commissioner Waheed

Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed has said the Maldives Police Service is not only aiming to solve and combat crimes, but also to develop a responsible youth community in the country.

Speaking at an award ceremony for the participants of the latest ‘Blues for Youth’ camp, Waheed said that the police are conducting programmes in every island of the country in order to reduce crime while providing opportunities for youth communities.

He highlighted the importance of universal participation in the reduction of crime in the country while claiming that some individuals were trying to incite unrest and violence by holding protests on the streets.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) accused the government last week of attempting to obstruct the party’s demonstrations after launching its first protests since the 2013 presidential elections – claims denied by the police.

The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has based many of it policies on youth empowerment, with President Yameen noting recently that his major aim was to rebuild the country through opportunities for the youth.

To this end, he has cleared the criminal records of over 2000 young people in the country during his first year in office.

PPM Parliamentary Group Leader Ahmed Nihan recently expressed concern that young people were being labelled as gang members unfairly, although comments by the home minister and a rise in violent crime suggests a persistent problem with gangs in the capital, Malé.

“Youth in these small congregations with young blood will have the courage to defend each other. Small things like that will roll over… It’s true. I know while saying this that some incidents have gone beyond bound,” Nihan was quoted as saying by local media.

Speaking at the ‘Blues for Youth’ event, Waheed also said police would not reveal details of ongoing investigations, regardless of how much pressure was applied. Two cases are currently lodged with the Police Integrity Commission in relation to the missing Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan.

The youth camps began shortly after the government took office last year, with the stated aim of broadening the role of youth in national activities, building a healthy young generation, preparing youth for the job market and facilitating opportunities to strengthen assertiveness.

The police also held a road show at the Raalhugandu area this weekend, the starting point for an MDP march, with the aim of raising awareness about road accidents.

The show, held in collaboration with Allied Insurance, included games for children and model displays of accidents.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the road show, Waheed expressed hope that the show will raise awareness amongst the many motorist on Malé roads.



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MP Nihan claims “no gangs in Maldives” remarks misinterpreted

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Parliamentary Group Leader MP Ahmed Nihan has denied claiming there were no gangs in the Maldives.

Local media had reported Nihan as saying at a PPM gathering on Sunday night (November 16) that there were no gangs in the Maldives and that the government would not allow youth congregating in street corners to be labelled criminal gangs.

“Youth in these small congregations with young blood will have the courage to defend each other. Small things like that will roll over…It’s true, I know while saying this that some incidents have gone beyond bounds,” he was quoted as saying.

Speaking in parliament yesterday, the majority leader accused opposition MPs of twisting his remarks.

“I want to clearly tell the Maldivian people what I said was that every youth in a corner is not a gang member,” he said.

He went on to claim that the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party and former President Mohamed Nasheed should “bear responsibility for all murders in the recent past”.

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Amnesty calls on Maldives police to “intensify efforts” into cases of threats, violence, and abductions

The Maldives police force must “intensify efforts” to find those responsible for death threats, abductions, and violent attacks against journalists, politicians, and civil society activists says Amnesty International.

“The Government of the Maldives is obliged under the international human rights instruments it has ratified to ensure the security and physical integrity of all persons,” said the Human Rights NGO in a statement released yesterday.

Amnesty went on to list the large number of incidents from recent months, including the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan 71 days ago, and an attack on the outlets’ premises in September.

“In particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, require ensuring the protection of all people from abductions, death threats and attacks.”

A number of abductions by vigilante gangs targeting perceived secularists in June were followed by threats made against journalists attempting to report on a rise in gang-related violence at the start of August.

Rilwan – who himself had reported on these threats – was last seen on the ferry to Hulhumalé on August 8, just minutes before a man fitting his description was seen being forced into a car outside his apartment.

Tension in the capital Malé rose again in late September following the release of a private investigative report into Rilwan’s disappearance.

The report, commissioned by local NGO Maldivian Democracy Network, suggested that radicalised gangs were the most likely culprits in a number of potential lines of inquiry detailed.

Police labelled the investigation “irresponsible” and “politically motivated”, suggesting it had violated the human rights of those involved and vowing to take against against those involved in the report’s compilation.

A series of death threats followed the release of the report and the subsequent media coverage. One individual mentioned in the report was arrested following the attack on Minivan News offices before being released by police the following day.

The offices of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) were also attacked a number of times, while the party’s MPs were threatened and homes attacked. The party has described recent threats to its MPs as being too many to mention.

Police response

The Inter-Parliamentary Union has described the authorities’ response as a test of the country’s democracy, while the EU has expressed concern over “mounting gang violence and signs of increasing religious intolerance” in the Maldives.

Police are working with local telecoms companies to identify the source of the threats although the Communications Authority of Maldives has said the use of foreign networks and computer software would make the culprits harder to trace. Threats sent to MDP leader Mohamed Nasheed while in the UK this month have resulted in the involvement of the UK’s metropolitan police.

After continued criticism of the police’s investigation from both Rilwan’s family and international groups, four individuals were taken into custody earlier this month in connection with the disappearance, although three have since been released.

Police have yet to suggest any possible theories or lines of inquiry into the disappearance and have previously stated that there was no concrete evidence linking Rilwan and the reported abduction in front of his apartment.

Speaking with Vaguthu last week, Police Commissioner Hussain Waheed accused both the family and local media of impeding the investigation.

“Certain media has acted in ways which has caused the police investigation to lose some of the leads we had so we urge the media to not do their own investigations into the case,” said Waheed.

“If Rilwan’s family and the media acted responsibly we would be seeing a better outcome than what we are seeing right now,” he told Vaguthu.

When Minivan News requested a similar interview with the police commissioner, it was informed that scheduling issues would not make this possible during the coming weeks.

The past eight days have seen a further number of attacks on the MDP during its tour of the southern atolls. 16 men were arrested following attacks on a party rally in Feydhoo, though all were subsequently released without charge.

The party’s offices in Addu were also attacked by arsonists following the disrupted rally.

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Home minister and pro-government MPs discuss legislative steps to curb gang activity

Home Minister Umar Naseer has begun meetings with pro-government MPs about necessary amendments to the laws in the initiative to inhibit gang-related criminal activity.

Naseer met with parliamentarians from ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) in Muleeaage yesterday (October 14), as well as meeting with Jumhooree Party parliamentarians at their main campaign offices.

The proposed changes include amendments to the act on stopping gang-related crimes and to laws prohibiting the carrying of sharp weapons as well as a temporary act on stopping gang activity, Naseer told local media.

“The delay in tackling gang related crimes is a deep concern even of parliamentarians. We have now had the chance to confer with them and see what their thoughts on the matter are,” Naseer said.

“Reactions from parliamentarians of both Jumhooree Party and Progressive Party of Maldives were positive to my recommendations. At the moment, I cannot share further details of the suggested changes,” Umar Naseer told Minivan News today.

Earlier in the week, however, Naseer explained to local media some of the changes he proposed to bring to these acts.

Changes include the introduction of “soft curfews” on identified gang members, changes in the process of completing an investigation, in taking the matter to court, and in the completion of criminal cases in court.

“The problem is the period between these two regimes. After police concludes an investigation and the case is sent to court, it sometimes takes from 2 to 3 to even 10 years before the court presides over the case,” he is quoted as saying.

Naseer has previously spoken of concerns about the lack of cooperation between police and the Criminal Court.

On August 4, Naseer stated in parliament that a “special police operation” was ongoing to curb gang violence in the capital following a spate of violent assaults in recent days.

He went on to suggest that the problem was exacerbated by insufficient police resources, revisions being required for certain laws, and drug trafficking.

Special efforts from police resulted in the dismantling of ‘gang huts’ around the capital, before President Abdulla Yameen called a halt to the process, announcing that the government would instead seek more comprehensive solutions to the issue.

Following his unsuccessful campaign in the 2013 PPM presidential primary, Umar Naseer accused fellow candidate Yameen of having links to criminal gangs and the drug trade. Since being appointed home minister, however, Naseer has retracted these accusations.

The home minister announced in September that the police had identified about 30 gangs, with 50 gang leaders and 500 gang members operating in the country, especially on the streets of Malé.

He added that 13 of these 30 gangs can be considered as “highly dangerous”.

He said at the time that the government is planning an ‘attack’ to address the increase in gang related crimes – including assault, murder, and drug offences.

The issue of gang violence has become increasingly prominent in recent years, with stabbings and intimidation of journalists covering these crimes becoming commonplace.

A series of attacks on the offices and homes of journalists and MPs last month prompted concern from the EU at the level of gang activity in the country, while a private investigation into the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan suggested radicalised gangs may have been involved.

2012 study of the Maldives’ gang culture by the Asia Foundation revealed that “political and business elites” exploit gangs to carry out a range of illegal activities including the suppression of opponents and carrying out tasks to help maintain popularity or divert media attention from political issues.

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Allegations of ties between police and terrorist groups harm national interest, says police commissioner

Allegations of links between Maldivian security services and foreign terrorist organisation are false and intended to bring disrepute to the police and military, insists Commissioner of Police (CP) Hussain Waheed.

“The commissioner of police said no one who wishes well or wants a good future for the country would speak ill of the public and talk either in the Maldives or abroad in a manner that could render the country’s sound institutions powerless,” reads a news item published on the police website yesterday.

The CP argued such claims would not bring any benefit to the country, but instead harm national interest, adversely affect the economy, and incite unrest and strife among the public.

Allegations that damage national interest and threaten national security would be investigated, Waheed warned, and “necessary action would be taken.”

Waheed’s remarks follow former President Mohamed Nasheed claiming that the vast majority of Maldivians fighting in Syria and Iraq were ex-military.

In an interview with The Independent newspaper in the UK last month, the opposition leader warned that radical Islam was growing stronger in the Maldives.

“Their strength in the military and in the police is very significant. They have people in strategic positions within both,” he alleged.

Waheed meanwhile noted that police and army officers had sworn an oath to protect Maldivian sovereignty and ensure the safety and security of citizens.

“Therefore, neither the police institution nor the defence forces would do anything that could threaten national interest and cause harm to the people,” police said, adding that such allegations against the security services was “unacceptable”.

Following the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s claim in May that extremist ideologies were prevalent in the security services, the defence ministry dismissed the allegations as both “baseless and untrue” and intended to “discredit and disparage” the military.

The Maldives Police Service (MPS) meanwhile issued a press release on September 18 condemning Nasheed’s allegations in the Independent.

While police estimated that about 24 persons with links to militant jihadist organisations might be active in the Maldives, MPS insisted that none of them were police officers.

“And the police leadership has always been working to ensure that such people are not formed within the police,” the statement read.

As such allegations from a former president could incite fear among the public and damage the economy, police urged all parties to refrain from making false statements “to gain the public’s support, achieve political purposes, or win approval from foreign nations”.

“Islamist threat”

In his interview, Nasheed blamed an influx of Saudi Arabian funds for the conservative turn of Maldivian society in recent years and suggested that President Abdulla Yameen might tacitly encourage radicalism.

“President Yameen feels he can deal with the Islamist threat later but first he wants to consolidate power,” Nasheed explained.

“He has the Islamists with him and he can’t do away with them. He would deny that but I don’t see the government taking any measures against the Isis flag being displayed on the street and all the indoctrination going on. They have allowed the military to grow beards.”

“They are very short-sighted. Their thinking is that Islam has a lot of support and you can whip up more [political] support with religion.”

Nasheed warned that the government’s position was untenable.

“If you look at how at how Mosul fell – the top brass ran away because Isis had already infiltrated the rank and file,” Nasheed said.

“I have a feeling that our police and military are already taken. Eventually the Islamists will create havoc in the Maldives. I have no doubt about it.”

Last week, Nasheed suggested that radicalised gangs were behind the recent “atrocities” in the capital, noting that extremist religious indoctrination of youth was a relatively recent phenomenon in the Maldives.

The opposition leader claimed that many young men from criminal gangs were seen in a protest march held in Malé on September 5 with participants bearing the militant organisation Islamic State (IS) flag and calling for the implementation of Islamic Sharia.

Of the approximately 150 participants, Nasheed claimed most were “active in gangs.”

“So youth in gangs are turning to ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] ideology. That activities of ISIS are happening in the Maldives is becoming very clear to us. And while this is happening, the government is unable to stop gang activities,” he said.

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