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News in Brief

President and first lady exchange Eid greetings with public at Sultan Park

President Abdulla Yameen and First Lady Fathmath Ibrahim exchanged Eid al-Fitr greetings with the public at Sultan Park today.

According to the President’s Office, cabinet ministers, MPs, members of political parties, state dignitaries, and foreign diplomats attended the reception.

“A large number of members of the general public, including children, also called on the president and the first lady this morning,” the President’s Office said.

Exchanging Eid greetings with the public was biannual tradition during the 30-year reign of President Yameen’s half brother, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Sun Online meanwhile reported the president as condemning the Israeli aggression in Gaza and appealing to the public to bear in mind the suffering of fellow Palestinian Muslims on a day of Islamic unity.

Nearly 3,000 people exchanged Eid greetings with the president and first lady between 9:00 and 11:00am this morning, Sun Online reported.

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Government overrules city council over vehicle ban

The government has overruled a Malé City Council decision to enforce a ban on motorised vehicles from 4:00 to 7:00pm today on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr.

Transport Authority Chairman Abdul Rasheed Nafiz told local media that a number of special events had been planned in advance to take place in the capital this afternoon, which would require the use of vehicles.

Following the decision, police have also said it would not be enforcing the city council’s ban, which was announced on Wednesday (July 23).

The opposition-dominated city council has, however, urged the public to “follow our previous announcement and keep roads free of vehicles.”

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Maldives’ swimmers break more national records in Glasgow

Maldivian swimmers have continued to break national records in the pool at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

After three records fell on the first day of the games last week, four more have fallen in the following days.

Nishwan Ibrahim, Aminath Shajan, and Aishath Sajina all continued to improve on the previous records in the 200m freestyle and 100m butterfly, the 100m freestyle, and the 100m breaststroke, respectively.

The Maldives team consists of two competitors in the athletics, six in Badminton, six in table tennis, four in swimming, and five in shooting events.

Hussein Inaas will compete in the first heat of the mens 400m at 3:25pm today, Maldives’ time.

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Four injured in collision of ferry and speedboat

Four people were injured in accident at sea after a ferry en route from Malé to Hulhumalé collided with a speedboat last night.

Police said the incident was reported at about 9pm. The collision occurred while the ferry was entering the Hulhumalé harbour and the speedboat was leaving, police explained.

Motorcycles on the ferry were also damaged in the accident, police said.

None of the four individuals injured in the accident suffered serious injuries and were treated at the ADK hospital.

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Singapore Islamic authority approve Maldives halal certificates

Singapore has become the first country to accept the Maldives’ Halal certification, the Ministry of Islamic Affair has revealed.

Local media have reported the ministry’s announcement that the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore has accepted the certification, currently used by three Maldivian fisheries firms.

“After the approval of the certificate by Singapore, the market is looking forward to an even bigger expansion,” Islamic Minister Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed told Haveeru.

The move to award Halal certification followed the EU’s decision to refuse the extension of duty-free status to Maldivian fish imports late last year due to the Maldives’ failure to adhere to international standards regarding freedom of religion.

The EU represents the single largest export partner for the Maldives.

The government promptly formed a Fisheries Promotion Board in order to target new markets, with Felivaru Fisheries, Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company (MIFCO), Horizon Fisheries all awarded Halal certificates in April.

Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Islamic Affairs Dr Aishath Muneeza told Sun Online that the certification had been approved for three years by the Singapore authority, expressing confidence that the development would open up international markets.

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Donations made from Zakat fund to children’s home, centre for persons with special needs

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs has donated MVR100,000 (US$6,485) to the children’s home in Vilimalé and MVR140,000 (US$9,079) to the centre for persons with special needs in the island of Guraidhoo in Kaafu atoll from the Zakat fund, reports newspaper Haveeru.

Zakat is the obligatory alms tax collected from the accumulated wealth of all able Muslims.

Speaking at a ceremony to hand over the donations today, Islamic Minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed noted that this was the first time donations to the children’s home and the disability centre were made out of the Zakat fund.

The children at the Vilimalé home and persons with special needs were among the most deserving groups for financial assistance from Zakat proceeds, Shaheem reportedly said.

He added that details of expenditure would have to be submitted to the ministry.

Deputy Gender Minister Sidhatha Shareef meanwhile noted that the Islamic ministry has previously provided financial assistance to the children’s home and disability centre.

According to the local daily, MVR3.4 million (US$220,493) was collected as Zakat this year.

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Fisheries ministry extends application period for loans

The Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture has extended the application period for seeking loans from an MVR8.8 million (US$570,687) fisheries development programme to modernise fishing vessels.

According to local media outlet CNM, the ministry decided to extend the deadline after it expired on July 9 following a number of requests from fishermen.

The new deadline is September 14, the ministry announced, while 60 percent of the loans are earmarked for young fishermen. Details of the loans would be available at the ministry and Bank of Maldives branches across the country.

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PPM MPs reluctant to approve Dr Shakeela as health minister

Several MPs of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) are not in favour of approving Dr Mariyam Shakeela as health minister in an upcoming vote on parliamentary approval for her nomination, reports CNM.

An unnamed MP told the online news outlet that Majority Leader Ahmed Nihan organised an informal secret ballot at a PPM parliamentary group meeting last Wednesday (July 23).

“Most members were not that positive,” the PPM MP was quoted as saying.

CNM has meanwhile learned that Nihan has communicated the results to the government as well as Shakeela and sought her opinion on the possibility of resigning from the post.

PPM MPs were against approving her to the post because of her handling of several incidents in the health sector during the past few months, CNM claimed.

The President’s Office submitted Shakeela’s name for parliamentary consent earlier this month. She was reappointed to the cabinet after her ministry was renamed Ministry of Health from Ministry of Gender.

The department of gender was meanwhile transferred under the newly-created Ministry of Law and Gender.

The parliament’s government oversight committee narrowly approved the nomination at a meeting last week and forwarded the matter to the People’s Majlis floor for a vote.

As opposition Maldivian Democratic Party MPs and Jumhooree Party MPs voted against recommending the nominee for approval, Chair Riyaz Rasheed cast a tie-breaking vote.

Despite the PPM majority on the key oversight committee, the vote was tied 5-5 after PPM MP Abdul Latheef Mohamed abstained.

The MP for Haa Alif Dhidhoo had joined the ruling party after being elected as an independent.

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Dhiraagu concert delayed in solidarity with Palestinians

Local telecommunications provider Dhiraagu has cancelled its annual Eid al-Fitr music event in solidarity with Muslims facing Israeli attacks in Palestine.

“This is a very colourful event which we hold to celebrate Eid every year. But we’ve cancelled this year’s Eid show to express our grief for the suffering faced by Muslims in Gaza,” Senior Marketing Communications and Public Relations Executive Imjad Jaleel told Sun Online.

He went on to explain that the show will be held during Eid al-Ada in October instead.

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Torture victims in the Maldives tell their stories