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President requests ruling on non-Muslim worship
From The Maldives News.
The Maldives promotes itself as a romantic holiday destination; we are also warned that should the sea level rise in the Indian Ocean to any extent that the Maldives will be underwater before one can say Minaret.
President Mohamed Nasheed said yesterday he would seek advice from religious scholars on Islam’s position on allowing non-Muslims to worship in an Islamic community.
In his radio weekly address, the president said the constitution was "very clear" that laws contrary to Islam could not be made or enacted.
"It has become very important for me to find out what Islamic sharia says about not allowing foreigners who want to worship other religions in the Maldives," he said.
"When this bill comes from the People's Majlis for the president to ratify, the question before me will be what is the ruling in Islamic sharia on people of other religions living in an Islamic community to worship?"
Last week, a bill proposed by independent MP Ibrahim Muttalib Fares-Maathoda on outlawing places of worship for non-Muslims was sent to committee for further review with unanimous consent of all MPs who participated in the vote.
“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.
Several MPs called for longer jail terms and higher fines, while others said foreigners in violation of the law should be deported.
But, some MPs argued the law was unnecessary as the constitution states that Islam shall be the basis of all laws and non-Muslims cannot be citizens.
Most MPs said laws were needed to seal off all avenues to freedom of religion being established in the Maldives. So much for "Visit Maldives - the sunny Isles"
Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, state minister for Islamic affairs told Minivan News . . . he believed laws should be made to protect Islam and strengthen Maldivians' faith.
"Right now, Muslims aren't getting their rights," he said. "For example, there's no way for students to pray at schools, you can't get some jobs if you wear the burqa and there are some jobs where you can't grow beards."
Speaking to Minivan News today, Abdullah bin Mohamed Ibrahim, president of religious NGO Salaf Jamiyya, said he believed the bill was necessary to safeguard Islam.
"What the president said doesn't match what was in the bill," he said. "The bill is about making it illegal to build places of worship for non-Muslims. It doesn't make it illegal for foreigners to pray in their rooms or houses."
Abdullah said the association had information that Christian missionaries were trying to infiltrate the country and proselytize in the Maldives.
"I believe the bill is essential because the constitution does not forbid building places of worship," he said.
Come friendly waves . . .