MPs approve bill to outlaw places of worship for non-Muslims. Maldives

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Here is a little of that Muslim tolerant, ‘non compulsion of religion’ for ya:

18 November 2009

MINIVAN NEWS… MPs called for lengthy jail sentences and hefty fines in a bill to outlaw places of worship for non-Muslims in the Maldives.

At today’s sitting, a bill proposed by Fares-Maathoda MP Ibrahim Muttalib on making it illegal to either build places of worship for “false religions” or practice other faiths in public was sent to committee for further review with unanimous consent.

Presenting the legislation, Muttalib said he submitted it because inquiries had been made with the government to establish places of worship and there was no law to stop it.

“The other thing we have to think about today is that the government is considering establishing wedding tourism in the country and this will indirectly set up churches in the country,” he said.

Jail terms

While the bill states that foreigners or expatriates will be allowed to worship in the privacy of their homes, involving Maldivians or encouraging them to participate will be an offence.

The bill specifies a jail term of three to five years or a fine of between Rf36,000 (US$2,800) and Rf60,000 (US$4,669) for those in violation of the law.

During the debate, opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MPs and some independents called for harsher penalties to serve as deterrents.

“I propose that those who violate the provisions in the bill should be jailed for at least ten years,” said Thohdhoo MP Ali Waheed, adding the fine should be increased to Rf500,000 (US$38,000) or Rf1 million (US$77,821).

Waheed said the government was trying to introduce wedding tourism to build churches in the country.

He further said nobody had ever seen the president attend Friday prayers and his administration was intent on destroying the country’s Islamic culture.

Some MPs said foreigners who violated the law should be deported and not allowed back for ten years.

Redundant

Although all MPs supported the spirit of the legislation, MPs of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) argued the bill was redundant as article ten of the constitution states that Islam shall be the basis of all the laws of the Maldives and no laws contrary to any tenet of Islam shall be enacted.

Further, the constitution states a non-Muslim may not become a citizen of Maldives.

Some MPs argued the provision to authorise practicing religions other than Islam was unconstitutional.

Ihavandhoo MP Ahmed Abdullah said they consider the implications of enacting a law to allow foreigners to worship privately.

“Even now we are unable to check and monitor illegal activities,” he said. “So after authorising something like this, how can we make sure Maldivians aren’t involved?” Continue Reading →