Vaikaradhoo Island Council has denied permission to prominent Adhaalath Party scholar Sheikh Ilyas Hussain to conduct a sermon on the island, exclusively for “young girls between the ages of 18-30’’.
The sermon was due to be held on the island today, according to Island Council President Ahmed Waheed.
Speaking to Minivan News, Waheed said that the council’s decision was made “in the best interest of the islanders”. The council had decided that if Sheikh Ilyas was to preach on the island it might “disrupt the island’s peace and create unrest.”
“It is the responsibility of the council to control any unrest as we do not have any police on the island, and we are certain that we could not control the unrest that might be created if Sheikh Ilyas is allowed to preach here,” Waheed said.
“The sermon is to be held as a part of a religious workshop currently going on in the island for females, and is only for young women aged 18-30 – no men are allowed inside,’’ he said.
“The Adhaalath Party Wing on this island requested permission and the council had a meeting regarding the issue,” he explained.
Minivan News spoke to Waheed around 2:00pm this afternoon. Sheikh Ilyas was at that moment waiting in the Vaikaradhoo lagoon as islanders protested against him on the jetty.
“There are lots of citizens at the jetty raising their voice against him,’’ said Waheed. “This island has a population of 1700 people.”
Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Vaikaradhoo Wing Vice President and Vaikaradhoo Council Member Ali Amir told Minivan News that about 50 or 60 MDP supporters had gathered at the harbor to express their opinion on the Sheikh’s arrival.
“Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran is on board the same vessel with Sheikh Ilyas, and MDP supporters are shouting ‘traitor’ at them,’’ Amir said. “The police have arrived to the island but they are just waiting at the moment.”
He said that the islanders were not happy with Sheikh Ilyas delivering a sermon to females only, and said it was politicised.
“We still do not know why they are waiting on the vessel, may be they are feeling guilty about something they have done,’’ he suggested.
Speaking from the boat, Sheikh Ilyas told Minivan News that he had attended the island to deliver a sermon organised by the islanders of Vaikaradhoo, but when he arrived MDP activists had gathered at the harbour and used foul language at him. Minivan News heard people shouting “traitor” in the background.
‘’Maybe that is what [former President] Mohamed Nasheed has taught them it,’’ Sheikh Ilyas suggested. “He has said that MDP is an ideology that cannot be wiped out.”
A group of people said to be MDP supporters disrupted a sermon held by Sheikh Ilyas at Masjid-al-Furqan in Male’ last Friday night, after Male’ City Council declared that it the sermon was unauthorised.
Newly-appointed Islamic Minister Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed declared in April that all mosques in the country would be taken away from local councils and brought under the authority of the Ministry,.