Historical ‘Fan’diyaaru’ Mosque demolished

A historical mosque in Male’- aged at least 268 years old – has been demolished in order to build a new one on the same site.

‘Fandiyaaru Miskiy’ (Judge’s Mosque) was built by Al Qadi Muhammad Muhibbuddin Fan’diyaaru Kaleyfaanu – who was appointed as Chief Justice in 1747- and was subsequently named after him.

REVIVE, a local NGO working to preserve national history and culture, has condemned the demolition, and expressed remorse over the historical loss.

Describing the demolition as unlawful, the organisation called on the Maldives Police Service, Prosecutor General’s Office, and other authorities to investigate and take action.

REVIVE has also called on the People’s Majlis to pass a national heritage bill as soon as possible.

“The government have an obligation to protect such historical buildings under the 27/79 Act on Historical Places and Things and the UNESCO Convention Concerning The Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage,” a REVIVE press release stated.

The organisation also called on relevant authorities to ensure that the digging of the site should be done under the supervision of the Department of Heritage, as historical relics are often found under such sites.

Male’ city council member Ibrahim Shuja said that the mosque was demolished to build a modern four-storey mosque ‘ for the benefit of the people’.

“A generous businessman has offered to build a new mosque there, they have been planning this for three years. It was discussed with the [city] council and the Islamic Ministry before we approved it. We are not doing anything illegal here. It is a mosque we are building, not a carnival. We will go on with the project as planned,” Shuja said.

He also said there was “not that much of history”, that the corpses buried there would be removed, and that the place would be cleaned for building the new mosque.

“If anyone wants to observe, they are welcome. And if anyone wants the wooden structure of the ceiling, they can take it,” he said.

Director of the Department of Heritage Ali Waheed confirmed that the department was not informed about the demolition of the mosque. He noted that while there is no heritage law requiring such approval, considering the department is mandated with taking care of such sites, the usual practice is to consult with it before such activity.

“Even if it is to place a telecommunication antenna near a historical site, we are consulted usually. But we haven’t been officially informed about Fandiyaaru Miskiy,” Waheed said.

Ali Waheed noted that the department has a number of challenges in taking care of historical sites around the country, including the fact that such places are under the jurisdiction of Island Councils with budget deficiencies.

“We have earlier paid people from islands to maintain such places, but since we can no longer pay for the maintenance, those places haven’t been maintained for the past four years. And not all councils are cooperative in maintaining such places,” Waheed said.

Mohamed Shatir, Historian and Director General of the National Archives also expressed concern over the demolition.

“Personally, I feel that it shouldn’t have been demolished. If there was a need to expand the mosque, I think it could have been done while retaining the original old mosque. Perhaps it is not exactly unlawful as there is no proper heritage act in place, but it is definitely not right,” Shathir said.

According to REVIVE, a seven foot tombstone within the mosque premises was also demolished in early 2000s, while the greater cemetery was dismantled in 1970 to provide housing plots.

REVIVE president Ahmed Naufal said that other historical sites such as Koagannu Cemetery in Addu City – one of the oldest in the country- and the cemetery of the old Friday mosque in Male’ have also been vandalised.

“In most islands such places are abandoned and ignored. Not just by the authorities but also members of the public don’t seem to care about such places,” he said.

“We are working on a National Heritage Bill currently. But I really don’t think laws alone will get results. The Maldives National Archives Act was passed in 2011, and they still have only a few staff and no office,” he said.

Referring to the religious extremists’ destruction of historical Buddhist relics at the Maldives National Museum in 2012, Naufal said that even after the incident the security of the museum is poor.

“These are national treasures. They represent our history and our culture. They should be properly protected, perhaps by our national security forces. A lone security guard is not enough, especially considering the place was attacked recently,” said Naufal.


Projects providing island-level protection from disasters to be implemented this year

Three projects aimed at providing protection from natural disasters are to be implemented this year, the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) has said.

A one-year partnership agreement has been signed between NDMC and Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC), and that efforts are underway to implement the projects in 2013, local media reported.

A statement by NDMC said that the three projects include a priority implementation partnership project, a project on establishing a national framework on protection from disasters, and a project on providing assistance in drafting the law on disaster-related matters.

Local media reported that priority implementation partnership project involves island-level development plans to reduce the damage caused by disasters.


Economic Ministry fines five shops for consumer protection violations

The Economic Ministry has fined five shops citing violations of Consumer Protection Regulations, reports Haveeru.

The Ministry inspected 26 shops but did not reveal the names of any found. Those found violating regulations were fined Rf 500 for every product sold in violation of regulations, which can include a lack of usage instructions or expiry dates on packaged products, or price tags.

Shops inspected included supermarkets, the Ministry said in a statement. Future inspections will be conducted by Male’ City Council.


Government faces “serious international pressure” over detention of Yameen, claims DQP

The Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) has claimed the government will face “serious international pressures” if opposition People’s Alliance leader and Mulaku MP Abdulla Yameen is not released in the next seven days.

“The Qaumee Party has undertaken important efforts in the international arena towards this end,” reads a press statement the party issued today, adding that a delegation of DQP officials, including Dr Hassan Saeed and Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, were currently in the United Kingdom.

“If President Mohamed Nasheed’s government does not release the political party leaders arrested and kidnapped in violation of the laws and constitution in the next seven days, the Maldivian government will have to face serious international pressure.”

It adds that the government and President Nasheed would have to bear “full responsibility” for any possible international restrictions.

Yameen and Jumhoree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim were taken into police custody after the government accused them of bribery and treason in a ‘cash-for-votes’ scandal at parliament. Several tapped phone conversations to this effect were leaked to the press shortly afterwards.

After the High Court ruled the pair would be kept under house arrest for 15 days while the case was investigated, an appeal to the Supreme Court resulted to their release early last week, on grounds of insufficient evidence.

Yesterday police complained their investigation into the allegations of parliamentary corruption were being obstructed by the judiciary, after senior police investigating the case were suspended from appearing in court.

The DQP today claimed that President Nasheed’s detention of Yameen after his repeated calls for the release of Burmese opposition leader Aung Sun Suu Ki, showed a “lack of sincerity,” and urged the government to accept international offers of mediation.

“Confused and grieving”

Meanwhile Yameen, who is currently under the ‘protection’ of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) at the Presidential retreat ‘Aarah’, spoke to Minivan News today and said his family are “confused and grieving” at his detention.

Yameen said the MNDF were treating him “very well” at Aarah, and that he had no complaints about this, however he was unable to meet with anyone and was “stranded.”

‘’I was not brought here upon my request, [the MNDF] requested I go with them, in order to cool down the situation of Male’,’’ Yameen said. “I asked them to allow me the chance to go on my own, to any island I wished. MNDF officers tried to [accommodate this], but the political appointees in the MNDF security council denied my request. When I refused to go with them, the two officers who came to take me told me that their superiors had ordered them to take me by force if I refused to come along.’’

“I do not want that protection from them, and I have told them,’’ Yameen told Minivan News, proposing that his detention was one of the actions Nasheed had recently said would be “out of the chart.”

‘’My whole family is now consumed with confusion and grief; I have a small child who is attending a pre-school,’’ he said.

President Mohamed Nasheed said in his weekend radio address that isolated political appointees would remain isolated was a reference to him, Yameen claimed.

“When I knew the MNDF planned to bring me here, I requested they bring one of my lawyers with me, to make sure that the MNDF was taking me to Aarah,’’ he said, “but they denied my request.”

Yameen said he had asked the MNDF when he would be freed, but they had replied they “did not know what to say about that.”

‘’It is unlawful and illegal to keep someone isolated, in the name of providing security, against his will,’’ Yameen alleged. “This government is a dictatorship ruling arbitrarily using the power of the fist.’’

He called on the armed forces to work within by the law and to understand that they were accountable and responsible for their actions.

Meanwhile, the main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) has commenced a series of protests demanding the release of the opposition leader and calling the government to conclude its “unlawful acts”.

DRP MP Ahmed Nihan claimed that the government was to be blamed for the recent unrest and violence in Male’.

”They caused it so they could arrest Yameen, they created the scene that Male’ was in chaos,” said Nihan.

”It was not the real Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) activists who were out on the streets that day, I can recognise their faces. They were boys that belong to different areas of Male’, even the police will know them.”

Nihan said DRP protests would be “a series of peaceful gatherings” in front of DRP’s head office.

”Yameen’s arrest violates the chapter on freedom in the constitution,” he added.

Press secretary for the president’s office, Mohamed Zuhair, said Yameen requested MNDF provide him security and that he was not allowed to go to any island he wished, because they felt they were best able to protect him at Aarah.

Acting outside the law

Independent MP Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed said on his blog that he interpreted Nasheed’s “acting outside of the chart” as meaning “acting outside of the constitution”.

MP Nasheed, who has acknowledged asking MP Gasim for “cash” but denies allegations of corruption and misconduct, said he believed he might “also be isolated in this manner.”

“Whether [isolation] is constitutional, or can be done with the existing laws, is another question,” he said.

As a consequence, Nasheed warns, the system put in place by the constitution and its authority is undermined and “the rights and powers guaranteed by the constitution come to an end.”

“[This was a] purposeful violation of the constitution by an act, definitely deliberate and forewarned, carried out in [a presidency] was given after swearing to rule in accordance with the constitution,” he writes.

The constitution was drafted in light of “years of experience where all the powers of the state were concentrated in the presidency”, he continues, and prioritises separation of powers, checks and balances and protection of fundamental rights over “the convenience of the president”.