Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Nasheed’s explosive claim in the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party’s official WhatsApp Group that he was in possession of photos of President Ibrahim having sex with a young woman was widely reported in the media.
The president’s spokesman categorically denied the allegations. MDP MPs in Solih’s faction challenged former president Nasheed to produce the photos as the opposition called for an independent investigation.
Visit Maldives Pro 2022, the International Bodyboarding Corporation’s first world tour event in Asia, kicked off at the Raalhugadu surf area in Malé.
Lawyer Nazim Sattar, former MP ‘Colonel’ Mohamed Nasheed and a Drug Enforcement Department police officer were arrested over leaked videos of homosexual relations with a Bangladeshi man.
The 25-year-old migrant worker, M.D Alamgiri, is suspected of secretly filming liaisons with more than 40 Maldivian men and using the videos as blackmail to extort large sums of money. He was arrested earlier this month.
Nazim’s brother, former president Mohamed Nasheed, condemned the arrest as a “selectively” targeted and “politically motivated” move to “appease hard line extremists” in the Maldivian Democratic Party-led coalition government.
Shortly before the arrests, Home Minister Sheikh Imran Abdulla – leader of the religious conservative Adhaalath Party – declared that the police would not hesitate to move against “people who commit filthy acts” and called on other institutions in the criminal justice system to “fear Allah and fulfil their responsibilities.”
In the MDP advisory committee’s WhatsApp group, Nasheed also accused the government of interfering with the judiciary to secure Nazim’s arrest warrant. Nasheed, who is speaker of parliament and president of the MDP, suggested that the ruling party should compile a dossier of “all immoral acts” by top officials in line with the government’s “very hardline view on morality and on what Islam is.”
The police told the media that the arrests came after time-consuming forensic analysis of the videos, which were leaked online in late June, noting that some photos circulating on social media were found to be doctored.
In an unrelated case, journalist Abdulla Naseer was also arrested on charges of homosexuality over leaked photos.
Former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – an Azhar-educated scholar whose views are at odds with Salafist interpretations of Islam – challenged the consensus of local clerics that yoga is prohibited in Islam.
Sins and their punishments are explicitly stated in the Quran or the Prophet’s teachings and mortals do not have the authority to declare other practices or behaviour as prohibited, Gayoom argued in a detailed statement. Yoga is permissible if it does not involve shirk (doubting the oneness of God), he concluded.
Former president Mohamed Nasheed expressed his “full support” for Gayoom’s statement. In the absence of consensus among scholars, “it is difficult to accept the philosophy of a certain group as a judgment of Islam,” he tweeted.
Former Islamic minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed and Maldives National Party leader Mohamed Nazim meanwhile called for the Fatwa Council to be reactivated in order to issue official rulings on disputed issues. The five-member advisory body has been dormant since the five-year terms of four members ended earlier this year. But new members have yet to be appointed in line with the religious unity law.
In late June, protesters disrupted an International Yoga Day event attended by foreign diplomats. Two clerics were among 21 people arrested over the incident. Their preaching licenses were suspended for allegedly inciting the mob that stormed the national stadium.
Two men were arrested while attempting to rob from the Jalaaludeen mosque in Malé. The police were alerted through the new security camera network set up by the Malé City Council to monitor mosques and parks in the capital.
The president and first lady observed a military parade and procession held to commemorate the 57th anniversary of independence. Earlier in the day, the first couple participated in a flag hoisting ceremony.
An official function and float parade previously planned to mark the occasion were cancelled amid cost-cutting measures.
The Maldives gained independence in 1965 after 77 years as a British protectorate.
Members of the Raa Atoll Dhuvaafaru island council and women’s development committee illegally transferred more than MVR2 million (US$129,700) in public funds to their personal bank accounts, according to a monitoring report published by the Local Government Authority, the oversight body for municipal councils. An LGA team was dispatched to the island following numerous complaints of alleged corruption and embezzlement. Other violations of public finance and civil service rules flagged in the report include the use of petty cash without any documentation and the failure of councillors to attend meetings.
Councillor Ahmed Samooh was found to have taken a full-time job at the Kuramathi resort after he was elected. He was absent for 55 days without a valid reason in addition to 40 days of leave taken in violation of regulations.
Ten local and international organisations called on the government to amend provisions in the new evidence law that allow courts to compel journalists to disclose sources. The law is due to come into force in six months.
The constitution guarantees the right to protect sources of information but the new law introduces exceptions in cases involving acts of terrorism or offences related to national security.
“These overly broad categories, which are not defined, are deeply concerning due to the Maldives’ long history of stifling peaceful dissent and muzzling press freedom using ‘acts of terrorism’ and ‘national security related crimes’ as an excuse to arbitrarily arrest, jail and even torture political dissidents, journalists, and human rights defenders and activists,” the human rights and press freedom groups warned.
Turnout was just 8% in a by-election for a vacant seat in the Addu City women’s development committee, prompting the Elections Commission to reiterate concerns about the “waste” of MVR800,000 (US$51,880) spent to conduct the polls. The commission has asked parliament to amend the decentralisation and electoral laws as several resignations from the newly-created Women’s Development Committees have required by-elections and strained the EC’s budget. Proposals include delegating the polls to island or atoll councils.
A by-election was also held for a vacant seat on the Thaa Atoll Vandhoo women’s development committee. Turnout was 68%.
Candidates from the opposition Progressive Party of Maldives won both seats.