Criminal Court orders release of Ahsan and custody of Hilath

The Criminal Court has ordered the Maldives Police Services last night to release Ali Ahsan, the editor of online Islamic magazine, DhiIslam, after he was arrested in connection with a number of messages that appeared on the 23 December Protest official website. The Criminal Court also ordered the Police to keep Ismail Hilath Rasheed, a man who was a leading figure in a protest held last Saturday, calling allegedly for religious freedom in the Maldives.

Ali Ahsan was arrested by the Police following messages that appeared on the 23 December Protest website issuing warnings to anyone hostile to Islam of death. The website was designed by Ali Ahsan.

The Police requested the Court to allow Ahsan to be kept in custody for investigations of the matter for a period of 15 days. The Police said that Ahsan was the only one who could have posted the death threats that appeared on the 23 December Protest website, and that the messages were posted in his username. The Police also argued that Ahsan’s release could endanger the Maldivian religious unity and that it might even threaten life.

However, Ahsan’s lawyers argued that the messages containing death threats to anti-Islamic activists were not posted by Ahsan, and that it was the doing of hackers. The lawyers also presented screenshots showing the website after it was hacked.

Ahsan’s lawyers also said that the Police were insisting on keeping him in custody against the Constitution and the laws of the country. “Ahsan has fully cooperated with the police in their investigations. He has handed over his personal assets to the police for purposes of investigations, and he has never shown any disrespect or any hesitation to obey towards the police. Therefore there is no reason why the Police should demand him to be kept in custody”, said Muhammad Shaheem Ali Saeed, one of the lawyers representing Ahsan.

On the other hand, the Court gave 10 days as custody period in case of Hilath. The police claimed that Hilath had called for other religions to be practiced in the Maldives in his blog, a claim which he rejected during last night’s court session.

Ismail Hilath Rasheed, who has identified himself as a freedom of religion and gay rights activist, has for years campaigned against Islam in the Maldives, using abusive and hateful language against the Quran, the Word of God according to Muslim belief, and Muhammad who is believed to be the final Messenger of God by the Muslims. Hilath has repeatedly accused Prophet Muhammad of cruelty, lying and other vices such as pedophilia in public. So far, the people or the government has taken no action against the man. However, when Hilath and a group of individuals with him gathered at the Artificial Beach area last Saturday and called for freedom of religion and freedom to engage in homosexual relations, a handful of young fanatics attacked them, injuring Hilath.