Maldivians call for religious freedom, get attacked with stones

Fazeena Ahmed, Haveeru News Service
Dec 10, 2011 - 08:28 5 comments
  • A photo sent by the religious freedom advocates allegedly shows one of the attackers running towards the camera as some 30 people gathered at the Artificial Beach in Male on December 10, 2011 calling for religious freedom to be in Maldives.

  • A photo sent by the religious freedom advocates shows what they claim to be the injuries received by Hilath as people threw stones at a group gathered at Artificial Beach on December 10, 2011 calling for religious freedom to be in Maldives.

  • A photo sent by the religious freedom advocates shows what they claim to be the injuries received by Hilath as people threw stones at a group gathered at Artificial Beach on December 10, 2011 calling for religious freedom to be in Maldives.

A group of Maldivians gathered at the Artificial Beach this afternoon calling for religious freedom in the Maldives but was attacked with stones.

Witnesses told Haveeru that a group of people threw stones at the some 30 people gathered at the Artificial Beach, leaving one with a fractured head and others with minor injuries.

Haveeru understands that the person who received a fracture on his head was the controversial freelance journalist and blogger Hilath Rasheed.

He reportedly went to hospital for treatment.

"He was bleeding excessively from his head," an eyewitness told Haveeru.

A photo sent by the religious freedom advocates allegedly shows a group of people attacking Hilath.

A participant said the gathering was held on the International Human Rights Day being marked today.

Haveeru understands that the attackers include members of religious advocacy groups and organisations in the country.

Police said they are investigating the violence created at Artificial Beach.

"Police went to the area when the violence erupted. We're currently looking into the causes of the violence," a police spokesperson said.

The gathering was held days after the UN human rights chief called on Maldivian authorities to remove the constitutional provision that requires every citizen to be a Muslim.

Earlier last year a Maldivian declared that he was a non-Muslim during the Q&A session of a lecture given by Indian scholar Dr Zakir Naik in Male.

Mohamed Nazim's announcement on May 28, 2010 sparked comments of hatred from an angry crowd of around 11,000 with many calling to kill him and eventually attacking him before police intervened and took him into custody.

Nazim, 38, however, apologised publicly before journalists after three days of religious counselling given by Islamic Ministry and gave the 'Shahaadha' testimony on TV.

Two months later, a 25-year-old self-proclaimed atheist, Ismail Mohamed Didi, was found hanging at his workplace reportedly after his efforts to get political asylum abroad failed.

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