The new regulations under the Religious Unity Act of 1994 drafted by the Islamic Ministry will be reviewed and amended by the Attorney General’s office before publication in the government gazette, the cabinet decided yesterday.
Zuhair told Minivan News at the time that the president’s office received complaints from individuals and religious NGOs regarding some of the provisions.
State Minister for Islamic Affairs Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed said today he was “very happy” with the cabinet deliberations.
“They actually raised some good points. They’re not really policy issues,” he said. “I believe the recommendations and suggestions that were made could improve and strengthen the regulations so that they will be more beneficial to society.”
Shaheem said the changes recommended to the draft regulations were “minor” and to “a few provisions.”
“We are working together with the attorney general’s office and Insha Allah it will be published soon,” he said.
He added that he will reveal the specific amendments or changes at a later date.
The Islamic Foundation of Maldives called on the government not to publish the regulations yesterday as it had identified five issues that could be problematic.
On the criteria for issuing preaching licenses, the Foundation argues that requiring scholars to be at least 25 years of age was both unconstitutional and not specified in Islam.
Article 27 of the constitution states that everyone has the right to freedom of thought and the freedom to communicate opinions and expressions in a manner that is not contrary to any tenet of Islam.
The association “strongly condemns” sub-clause four of provision 16(b), which would disqualify anyone convicted under the Religious Unity Act, as the law was used to imprison religious scholars by the former government.
Religious scholars arrested under the former regime reportedly had their beards shaven with chili sauce.
Moreover, the Foundation argues, a provision that requires foreign preachers to be mindful of Maldivian culture and traditions was unnecessary as scholars should have the opportunity as long as the sermons were in accordance with the tenets of Islam.