Yoga Wars, Covid Surge, Sex Tape

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Friday, June 24

The Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital opened a flu clinic to cope with a sharp uptick in cases of influenza and viral fever.

Friday, June 24

A video of lawyer Nazim Sattar engaged in sexual relations with a young foreign man was leaked online, prompting calls for his arrest on social media.

Nazim, a linguistics lecturer at the national university and younger brother of former president Mohamed Nasheed, was summoned for questioning by the police in the evening. He denies any wrongdoing.

Sodomy is a crime in the Maldives but offenders are rarely prosecuted.

The police told the media that multiple cases of blackmail with similar videos are under investigation.

Customs seized “a large amount of alcohol and other illegal items” from the Jazeera ship of the state-owned Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company upon its return from Thailand.

Thursday, June 23

The Attorney General’s Office drafted amendments to the penal code to criminalise acts that harm the country’s foreign relations or national interest.

The bill was sent to the president’s office for submission to parliament. If passed as expected since the ruling party controls a three-quarters majority of the legislature, new offences would include damaging the national flag or symbols of another country and damaging the institution of another country as well as harassing, harming or calling for the expulsion of foreign nationals.

In April, the president issued a decree to ban the opposition’s ‘India Out’ campaign, which was deemed by the national security council to pose a threat to public order and national security as well as regional security with the incitement of hatred for “political purposes”.

Thursday, June 23

Wednesday, June 22

The Health Protection Agency announced plans to administer a second booster dose to the elderly, immunocompromised and other eligible groups. A booster dose was also announced for children between 12 and 17 years of age who completed the first two doses six months ago. The Pfizer vaccine will be used for the booster dose.

Covid-19 cases are surging with a 185% spike in the third week of June and three deaths this month. The HPA advised precautionary measures such as mask-wearing and postponing non-essential travel and gatherings.

Wednesday, June 22

The Maldives Polytechnic was enlisted to conduct driving license theory tests “in addition to conducting skilling and up-skilling training programmes in the areas of land transport.”

Tuesday, June 21

A man found guilty of child sexual abuse was sentenced to 25 years in prison. A combined jail term of 57 years was handed down as he was charged with multiple counts, including engaging in a sexual act in the presence of a child and showing pornography to a child.

Tuesday, June 21

A group of protesters disrupted an International Yoga Day event at the national stadium, chasing away participants and destroying property. The British and Indian high commissioners as well as the UN resident coordinator were in attendance at the event organised by the youth ministry in collaboration with the Indian High Commission in Malé. No one was hurt. Riot police used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the crowd.

The incident occurred after religious scholars condemned yoga as forbidden by Islam and called on the government to cancel the annual event.

Of six men arrested in the aftermath, two were remanded for 60 days. The court ordered detention of five and seven days for the others.

The president formed a cabinet subcommittee and declared that the case was “being treated as a matter of serious concern and those responsible will be swiftly brought before the law” as it emerged that the flags – which bore the Islamic profession of faith or shahadah – and sound system used by protesters were provided by the Progressive Party of Maldives. But the main opposition party condemned “all forms of violence” and denied any involvement, suggesting that the police had allowed the mob to storm the stadium as only a few officers were stationed outside.

Riot police reportedly arrived after the protesters barged through barricades.

The police commissioner assured an internal review over the “serious security breach”.

Six more suspects, including two PPM council members and two clerics who spoke at the protest outside the stadium, were arrested a day later. The Islamic ministry suspended the preaching licenses of Sheikhs Fazloon Mohamed and Adam Nishan.

Religious NGO Salaf also denied any involvement with the protest as alleged by the youth minister.

Photo Credit: @Nannaxeev

The Maldives Bar Council postponed the country’s first bar exam from 25 June to 19 November.

Plans to charge MVR10,000 (US$648) as a fee previously drew criticism from new graduates and lawyers practising under a temporary license. The bar council’s president informed the legal community at the time that it would cost MVR20,000 per person to conduct the exam.

Monday, June 20

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih issued new rules for the use of the national flag, which “strictly forbids sacrilegious treatment or any other action that could desecrate the national flag and display damaged, defiled, faded or substandard flags.”

Monday, June 20

Sunday, June 19

The criminal court continued hearing witness testimony in former president Abdulla Yameen’s bribery and money laundering trial. The opposition leader is accused of accepting and laundering a US$1 million bribe from former lawmaker Yousuf Naeem for the no-bid lease of  Vaavu Aarah for resort development. 

The prosecution’s second witness was a police officer who compiled a computer forensic report on the laptop of Abdulla Ziyath, the former managing director of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation, a government-owned company at the centre of an unprecedented corruption scandal in which US$90 million was stolen.

The police officer analysed Ziyath’s communications with three people via the messaging platform Viber in 2015.

Sunday, June 19

President Solih returned to Malé after a two-day trip to visit the northern islands of Shaviyani Funadhoo and Noonu Holhudhoo. He attended the golden jubilee celebrations of Funadhoo School and the diamond jubilee festivities of Hulhudhoo’s Meyna School.