The government of the Maldives has stopped a public forum organized by local NGO, Jammiyyathuh Salaf.
According to a statement issued by the organization, the government ordered to stop the forum, stating that the organization did not obtain permission from the Islamic Ministry of the Maldives.
Jammiyathuh Salaf is a religious organization and the forum was about purposes of Islamic Shariah. The organization booked the hall of Arabiyya School and made payment. However, at the last minute, the school informed them that they cannot hold the forum in the school hall.
The forum is part of an ongoing series of religious forums held by the organization. An official of J-Salaf noted that they had not been asked to obtain permission for the previous forums.
The official further stated they are not obliged to obtain special permission to conduct public forums or religious lectures since the scholars affiliated with the organization already has an official permit from the government to conduct religious lectures. In addition, J-Salaf’s official said that this was the first time in 12 years a government of Maldives stopped an event of the organization.
The last time an event of the organization was stopped during former strongman President Maumoon Abdul-Gayyoom’s administration. At the time, Maldives Police Service forcefully stopped the event.
Many views this act of the government as an act to suppress freedom of religious expression. A few weeks prior, the Maldives Police Service had summoned satirist and social media activist Mohamed Siruhan for questioning after he had posted content criticizing the head of a local college who had made disrespectful statements about Islam.