Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Dr Afrasheem Ali has proposed amendments to the religious unity act.
Presenting the bill, Dr Afrasheem said that social unity among Maldivians was weaker than it had been in the past.
”One reason for this [disruption] is issues of religion, particularly disputes over worship and (scholars) criticising each other,” Dr Afrasheem.
He proposed that the Shafi sect be enshrined as the basis of Islam in the Maldives.
”I selected the Shafi sect because it is the sect most friendly, most accepted and most widely followed sect in Islam,” he said.
People’s Alliance (PA) Party MP Abdul Azeez Jamal Abubakuru said that the bill was necessary for the country.
”The Maldives used to be a country which was an example of social unity, but now we see cracks in that fort,” said Jamal.
Independent MP Ibrahim Muthalib also supported the bill.
”This is a very important bill,” said Muthalib, recommending several amendments to article 2(d) and article 2(e), after observing that the bill could potentially narrow the opportunity for foreign scholars to preach in the Maldives.
DRP MP Ahmed Mahloof also supported the bill.
”I recall during the last presidential elections, the Adhaalath party – which claimed to be promoting and protecting religion – tried to make (people believe) that former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was a Christian,” said Mahloof. ”This is the situation of our country today.”
He said that it was very important to resolve disputes among people.
Chairperson of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and MP Mariya Didi thanked Dr Afrasheem for presenting the bill to amend the Religious Unity Act, observing that “our forefathers have protected the religion for 800 years.”
In May the Islamic Ministry announced that it had completed the new religious unity act, and has sent it to the government’s gazette for publication.
However when the new regulations were completed many organisations expressed concern over the regulations and it was held by the president’s office for amendments.