Christian persecution in the Maldives is restrictive—the country has one of the most confining constitutions in the world. Article 10 states boldly, “The region of the State of the Maldives is Islam. Islam shall be the basis of all the laws of the Maldives.” There is no freedom of religion allowed.
All Maldivian citizens are required to be observant Muslims, and are forbidden to receive Christian literature, or build or attend any place of worship that is not Islamic. Even foreigners – especially tourists – visiting the islands are often asked to remove any Christian symbols and warned not to conduct Christian activities in their guesthouses.
The few persecuted Christians that exist must keep their faith secret. Sometimes even family members are unaware of other members being Christ followers. Known Christians are usually forced out of the country, or jailed and beaten till they recant. Still, some local Christians do take great risks to circulate the scriptures on SD cards, and there is a great hunger to know about the Christian faith among the population, despite the overweening government disapproval.
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih
“We are not supposed to exist here, so when we gather, it must be in secret, and well disguised. In this tiny country, we live very close together, so everyone knows almost everything about their neighbour. It is so hard to fellowship under these circumstances. You learn to keep everything important about your faith to yourself…and that cannot be healthy.”
SECRET CHRISTIAN IN THE MALDIVES
History of Christianity in the Maldives
The government of this low-lying holiday island paradise makes a strange boast…it claims that the country is 100% Muslim! Islam arrived in the 12th century, and it has always insisted on imposing an extreme version of the religion upon its people. There were instances of Christians living in the Maldives as far back as the sixteenth century, influenced by Portuguese traders, including a Sultan and his family.
The country however saw almost no missionaries from the Catholic or Protestant side since they were mostly prohibited even when the country was a British protectorate from 1887-1965. However, some Maldivian citizens living in south India and Sri Lanka converted and took their faith back. From time to time, diplomatic envoys as well as tourists have been bold to witness also, and Christian radio especially from FEBA in the Seychelles can be picked up.
Maldivian Christians do exist today but their numbers are extremely small. Said one, “It is as if we submerge beneath the sea and breathe through a straw to avoid being seen.”