Maldives: non-Muslims to lose citizenship

The Maldivian constitutional assembly has passed an amendment stating that “none, except Muslims can be Maldivian citizens”.

According to the Barnabas Fund, an organisation that supports the persecuted Church, the implementation of this amendment to the constitution means that a number of Maldivians will lose their citizenship and become stateless. In the Maldives it is illegal to practise any other religion than Islam.

While there are a few Christians in the country among the expatriates, there are also some Maldivian Christians, converts from Islam, who would lose their citizenship. Although the current constitution does not specifically mention this, any person who follows, preaches or simply reads texts of other religions is punished until he or she turns to Islam.

Under President Gayoom, whose autocratic regime has recently come under attack, militant Islamism has become more widespread. After a bomb explosion earlier this year, which injured a number of tourists and was attributed to an Islamic militant group, the president promised to take measures to combat Islamic extremism. This seems to contradict this latest amendment to the constitution.

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