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Islam Under Scrutiny

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Non-Muslims banned in Maldives

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In the island group of the Maldives trouble is brewing. In 2008, a new constitution was introduced preventing non-Muslims from becoming Madivian citizens. Articvle 9d states that “a non-muslim may not become a citizen of the Maldives.” This sees those of other faiths stripped of their existing Maldivian citizenship with the strong posibility of abusive treatment and imprisonment without a trial!   
Barnabus Fund reported in their January 2010 E-mail newsletter the Maldives People's      Majlis (Parliament) now had another more drastic bill that will effect non-Muslims  worshipping in their country.

Wikipedia has the following information on the Maldives. Maldives or officially the Republic of Maldives is an island country of 1,192 islets; 200 are inhabited.

  • Total area of  the 26 atolls is 90,000 square kms.
  • The Capital city is Male (with a stroke on the top of the E).
  • Population total 2009 : 396,334.
  • Situated about 700 kms south west of Sri Lanka.
  • The Maldives is the lowest country in the world, with a maximum natural ground level only 2.3 metres (7ft 7in) above sea level.

The sandy soil makes it unproductive for food, though coconut trees grow in abundance. Marine life makes up for the lack, however, with tuna fisheries being on one of the main commercial resources of the country. Tourism is their largest industry.
The Maldives were populated many centuries by migrants from Sri Lanka. Originally they followed a Sri Lankan type of Buddhism, but they were converted to Sunni Islam in 1153 BY THE ORDER OF THEIR RULER.   

Although governed as  an independent Islamic sultanate from 1153 to 1968, the Maldives was a British protectorate from 1887 to 25th July 1965.

President Nasheed announced on 10th November 2008 that the money earned from tourism could be used to purchase land elsewhere for the Maldive people to relocate should rising sea levels due to climate change inundate the country. The government is reportedly considering locations in Sri Lanka and India due to cultural and climate similarities, and as far away as AUSTRALIA.

(Could that be a serious possibility??  Could our state of Western Australia absorb 400,000 people? )

Currently, there is a small number of Maldivian Christians who are carefully watched as well as discriminated and ostracised.
There are also around 80,000 mirgant workers, mainly from South Asia who are Buddhists, Christians and Hindus.

The Bill

“The People's Majilis ( Parliament) of the Maldives has been debating a bill to ban non-muslim places of worship. The bill, proposed by Ibrahim Muttalib MP, would make it illegal to build non-muslim places of worship or to PRACTICE NON MUSLIM FAITHS IN PUBLIC. Punishment proposed is a jail term for three to five years or a fine between US$2,800 and US$4,700.”

Muttalib's argument for the bill is to maintain Islamic principles in the country and to prevent the spread of non-muslim faiths. He expressed concern that there was no legal barrier as yet to stop non-muslim places of worship. He believes there should be legislation explicitly preotecting Islam against the phenomenon of  the 'wedding tourism' happening and that it would 'indirectly set up churches in this country.'

Some have called for the bill to ban non-muslim worship even in private homes but admitted to monitor that would be nearly impossible. Other MP's argue that there should be  harsher penalties...jail terms for TEN years and foreigners not allowed to return to the country for ten years.
President Mohamed Nasheed has said before ratifying the bill he will seek advice from Islamic scholars. Sharia law apparently allows for Jews and Christians to keep their places of worship but not build new ones.
Hindus are 'pagans' and not even allowed to keep existing places of worship.

News agencies around the country say the debate does not centre on whether or not non-muslims should have a place for worship; it is taken for granted that THEY SHOULD NOT.

The Minister of State for Islamic Affairs commented that non-muslim places of worship are only necessary IN COUNTRIES WHERE THERE IS RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY. He said this does not apply to the Maldives, which he claims is ONE HUNDRED PERCENT MUSLIM.
Article 10 of the constitution states that Islam shall be the basis of all laws in the Maldives and no laws contrary to any tenet of Islam shall be enacted.

Surprisingly, sane MP's pointed out that Maldivians travelling abroad have the freedom to practice Islam, so non muslim foreigners should be allowed to worship in private while in the Maldives. Also discussed was the fact that Mohammed had allowed Jews and Christians to practice their faiths in Medina but this was rejected by Muttalib as he quoted Islamic scholars saying that example in Medina was superseded BY LATER COMMANDS OF MOHAMMED.

Two final arguments in favour of the bill said  the bill ensured there would be  NO possibility of advocating freedom of religion and it was important to stop human rights organizations from trying to impose freedom of religion on the
Maldives. “

    All information quoted from Barnabus Fund article

Well, this will probably put an end to the wedding tourism. Or should. Who would want to travel to the Maldives to have an Islamic style wedding?
No western style (revealing clothes) for music...

I sincerely hope that people realize after this bill is enforced, travelling there means the freedom to speak openly against Islam would be considered a criminal offence. Also, being under Sharia law women (especially) visting there should not expect western ways (the freedoms we take for granted) to be accomodated.
Before I wrote this article, I didn't have any idea where the Maldives was or what was     happening there. How sad that a whole country in the 12th century was ordered to convert to Islam.

I wonder how much of their heritage still exists from before that time and how did the British rule co exist with an Islamic Monarchy?

From the last statement of the Barnabus Fund article, it appears that the Maldives government and possibly other Islamic countries do not/will not respect human rights organizations. Yet, I wonder, how many are signatories to the UN convention on Human Rights?


Related articles previously  posted on our web site:

Island Paradise or Islamic Hell?

Water, water everywhere

The Sultans of Spin 2009

Last Updated on Friday, 19 February 2010 18:21  

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