Innamaadhoo island council asks Islamic Ministry to take action against Sheikh Shameem

Innamaadhoo island council, in Raa Atoll, has filed a complaint with the Islamic Ministry against Sheikh Ibrahim Shameem Adam after he allegedly preached inside the island’s Friday Mosque without first obtaining permission.

Speaking to Minivan News today Council President Ibrahim Fayaz said that Sheikh Shameem went to the island last Saturday and requested the council’s permission.

Before receiving a response from authorities, however, Shameem held a sermon on the island, said Fayaz.

“They announced that there will be a sermon that night on the topic of sports and entertainment and held the sermon without our permission and we did not do anything about it because then they say Innamaadhoo council had obstructed religious activities and that we are anti-Islamic,’’ he said.

He said that the first 50 minutes of the speech was very good before beginning to resemble a political campaign meeting.

“He started talking about politics and the upcoming parliament elections and people inside the mosque came out, only a few were waiting inside,’’ Fayaz said.

“More than 200 people gathered outside the mosque in protest to the speech he was giving because it was supposed to be a religious sermon and not a political rally.’’

Fayaz said that islanders came and complained to the council, warning that if the council was not able to stop him the islanders might have to do it.

“So I then went inside and turned the loudspeaker and microphone off, but he did not stop,’’ he said.

“I asked him who gave him the permission to conduct a sermon inside the mosque and he replied by saying that the ‘Higher Authorities’ gave him permission. I do not know who higher authorities were.’’

Political sermons

Fayaz said that Shameem indirectly criticised both Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the Progressive Party of Maldives’ parliamentary candidates.

“He criticised them in a way that everyone knew who he was talking about, but did not mention the names,’’ he said. “We even called the police that night because there might have been unrest on the island – and five councilors will not be able to stop the islanders.’’

He said that police asked the council to take a statement from Sheikh Shameem, but that Shameem refused to come to answer questions.

Furthermore, Fayaz alleged that the Islamic Ministry would not take any action against him because he was sent by the Adhaalath Party.

Islamic Minister Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed today told Minivan News that he had not received any information of the incident.

In December last year Omadhoo island council stopped Sheikh Shameem from delivering a religious lecture at the local mosque, fearing it might “disrupt the stability and social harmony of the island”.

At the time, Haveeru reported that when the council asked for a formal request for permission, the organisers sent a text message to the council president saying the lecture would go on with or without the council’s permission.

In May 2013 Sheikh Imran Abdulla and Sheikh Ilyas Hussein were obstructed from preaching in Vaikaradhoo, in Haa Dhaalu atoll, whilst Kamadhoo island council in Baa atoll prevented Sheikh Nasrulla Ali from preaching.

In Vaikaradhoo the sheikhs continued with police protection in the presence of local opposition activists.

In September 2013, Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) Chairman Ibrahim Umar Manik told a parliamentary sub-committee that the commission had stopped religious sermon ‘Andhalus’ conducted by Sheikh Shameem for violating the state broadcaster’s guidelines.

The MBC chairman,along with members of the commission, were summoned before the independent institutions committee following complaints by MDP MPs that the sermon by Sheikh Shameem infringed the rights of the party’s presidential candidate.

“We definitely do not consider [televising the sermon] as anti-campaigning against a particular candidate using religion. [But] around 11:35pm, because his talk was changing a little, we stopped the live [broadcasting],” Manik told the parliament committee at the time.

Current laws and regulations require religious preachers to obtain permission from local councils in order to preach at mosques in their administrative areas.


Police covered-up involvement in death of bystander, suggests leaked CCTV footage

Leaked CCTV footage has thrown into dispute an official police account of 43 year-old Abdulla Gasim Ibrahim’s death in a motorcycle accident on August 17.

Reporting the accident at the time, newspaper Haveeru stated that that according to police, two individuals on a motorbike had stolen a mobile phone from a foreigner on Majeedhee Magu and sped away on a motorcycle. Police had then ordered them to stop, but the two men had ignored the orders and fled from the scene at high speed.

Police said the speeding motorcycle hit the 43 year-old who was sitting on a parked motorcycle in front of the Justice Building, who was subsequently transferred to hospital with head injuries. The other two men were taken into police custody and charged with theft and speeding to avoid arrest, and the stolen phone was retrieved and returned to its rightful owner.

At the time of the accident, police told local media the accident had occurred due to the speeding motorcycle’s collision with Ibrahim’s motorcycle. They had made no mention of any police involvement in the collision aside from ordering the motorcycle to stop.

However, footage leaked on social media – which appears to be from a camera on the wall of the Presidential residence of Hileaage – shows a police officer stepping in front of the speeding motorcycle and appearing to hit the driver on the head with a baton as he rides past.

The driver loses control and collides with Ibrahim sitting on his motorcycle just in front of the Justice Building entry, causing both to fly off their vehicles. The police officer retrieves an object from the ground and wanders away, as other police and a military officer rush to the scene.

Ibrahim’s widow Naseema Khaleel at the time of the collision shared details of his condition with the media: “Doctor says he is 99 percent braindead. He has been kept on the ventilator from day one. The doctor said they’ll turn off the machine at 7:00pm tonight.”

Ibrahim was taken off the ventilator and died on August 20.

Letter to PIC

In a letter to the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) dated September 24 and obtained by Minivan News, Ibrahim’s wife expresses regret that police failed to reveal details of the incident.

“The ‘accident’ occurred due to a policeman standing in front of Hilaaleege using his baton to hit the head of the driver on a motorcycle which had two people fleeing after stealing, which caused the motorcycle to lose control and drive into Abdulla Gasim Ibrahim’s motorcycle,” Naseema writes.

She calls on the PIC to investigate the incident in depth and look into whether the police, either as an institution or as individuals, acted in breach of the law.

Article 41(c) of the Police Act states that Maldives Police Service should inform the PIC upon the occurrence of death or infliction of grave bodily injury to a person due to the use of force by a police officer.

Naseema refers to the Act in her letter and suggests that if the PIC had not been informed of the incident by police, it proved they were violating the law. She states that she intends to file the matter in court.

A police source told Minivan News that law enforcement officials were required to assess whether the application of force was justifiable, adding that the officer’s use of his baton on the fleeing suspect was “total negligence on his part”.

“They could have let them go and found them afterwards. They had the number plate, they could easily make out who it was, and there looks to have been plenty of eyewitnesses. What he did was totally stupid,” the source said. “There was also danger for the officer involved.”

The source said it was “very concerning” that police had not released to the public the true account of the circumstances which had led to the death of the bystander.

“There should be a thorough inquiry into police procedure and training in the proper application of force,” the source suggested.

After the footage began to circulate on social media, Police Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News that police could not respond to allegations that officers were involved in Ibrahim’s death.  Haneef said it was unable to respond as the letter of complaint was addressed to the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) and not the Maldives Police Service.

“The PIC will investigate and take necessary steps if any police or the institution is found to have committed such an act. The investigation is still ongoing,” he claimed.

Warning – some viewers may find the following footage disturbing