Bill proposes criminalizing ‘expressions contrary to national interest and Islamic tenets’

The Attorney General’s (AG) office has drafted a new law that would criminalise expressions contrary to national interest or tenets of Islam.

The draft legislation (Dhivehi) on freedom of expression – obtained by Minivan News – states that four types of “expressions contrary to national interest” will constitute criminal offences: encouraging harm to a person or damage to private party, calling for the illegal overthrow of the government, threatening the country’s independence, sovereignty, and security, and accusing a person of committing a hadd offence without conclusive evidence.

Free expression can be restricted on the grounds of national security only if the following circumstances arise: if there is a need to protect the nation or its territory, if Maldivians or foreigners threaten national security with the use of force, and if the government’s ability to defend the nation is endangered.

If the state restricts freedom of expression in such cases, the state must show that the right has been restricted as narrowly as possible, that the restriction is permissible in a democratic society, and that the expression in question poses “a serious danger to national security.”

Hadd offences are crimes for which punishments are prescribed in the Quran or the hadith (sayings of the Prophet), including theft, fornication, making unproven accusations of illicit sex, drinking intoxicants, apostasy, and highway robbery.

The punishment for falsely accusing a person of committing a hadd offence is a jail sentence of between one to three years and a fine of between MVR50,000 (US$3,242) and MVR100,000 (US$6,485)

The bill states that encouraging harm or damage to property – excluding calls for a boycott of goods – and calling for the illegal overthrow of the government can be prosecuted under sections 222 (threatening catastrophe) and 610 (rioting or forceful overthrow of the government) of the new penal code.

Expressions that threaten independence, sovereignty, or national security are punishable by a jail sentence of between three to five years and a fine of between MVR100,000 and MVR500,000 (US$32,425).

The bill states that individuals can be prosecuted for the offences if he or she is unable to prove the truth of a claim under standards followed in civil defamation cases.

The freedom of expression bill was among the government’s 207-bill legislative agenda. It was scheduled to be submitted to parliament during the second session of 2014, but has yet to be submitted.

In May, prosecutor general Muhthaz Muhsin said his office was looking into prosecuting opposition politicians for libel and slander following allegations linking President Abdulla Yameen and tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb with the brutal murder of MP Afrasheem Ali in 2012.

“People are acting however they want. They are trying very hard to defame state institutions in front of the public. The constitution does not give us the right to commit crimes hiding behind a political party,” he said.

“People in responsible posts are publicly accusing others of murder. We are researching on pressing charges against individuals who accuses some one of a crime and which the punishment is hadd.”

Later that month, President Abdulla Yameen threatened to prosecute Adhaalath Party president Sheikh Imran Abdulla, who had said the president and tourism minister would know the truth behind the murder.

“I am being accused falsely. This government will penalise them. I want to file charges against those who are making these accusations. Not that of defamation, but criminal charges. I will file charges against Sheikh Imran,” he said.

Religious unity

The Maldivian constitution guarantees “the right to freedom of thought and the freedom to communicate opinions and expression in a manner that is not contrary to any tenet of Islam.”

The draft freedom of expression bill criminalises insulting Islam, questioning the validity of a tenet of Islam, and threatening religious unity or causing religious disputes, strife, and discord.

Persons accused of anti-Islamic expressions can be prosecuted under section 617 (criticising Islam) of the new penal code.

The bill, however, exempts “constructive opinions” expressed respectfully regarding Islamic tenets for academic or research purposes or at a public forum.

The proposed law states that permission must be sought from the Islamic ministry to preach, deliver religious sermons, or inform the public about religious edicts and specifies a fine of between MVR50,000 and MVR100,000 for violations.

Teaching Islam at a school, college, or university without the ministry’s permission will also be punishable with a fine of between MVR10,000 and MVR50,000.

The 1994 religious unity law will be repealed once the proposed law comes into force. The Islamic ministry must enact new regulations on issuing permission based on education and experience and put in place a mechanism for investigating complaints.

Under the new law, the Human Rights Commission of Maldives will investigate complaints of expressions contrary to national interest or Islamic tenets and forward cases to the prosecutor general’s office.

The bill states that defamation will not be considered a criminal offence and specifies civil remedies. The Supreme Court is mandated to enact regulations specifying rules for determining compensation for damages.

Defamation cases can only be heard in cases where the complainant has suffered damages.

Defamation was decriminalised in 2009 when parliament abolished section 125 of the old penal code, which stated: “Where a person makes a fabricated statement or repeats a statement whose basis cannot be proven, he shall be punished with house detention for a period between one to six months or fined between MVR25 and MVR200.”


Police escort Sheikh from Maafushi after protesters accuse him of “distorting religion”

Police have escorted a sheikh from the island of Maafushi in Kaafu Atoll on Sunday, after 300 protesters gathered outside his private Quran and Tawhid classroom and demanded that he leave the island.

Multiple sources from the island previously expressed concerns about a Sheikh Ibrahim Rasheed, originally from the island of Thulhaadhoo in Baa Atoll, who has been preaching in Maafushi for just over a year.  He is alleged to have been “spreading hatred and strife on the pretext of preaching Islam”.

The Maafushi School and Pre-School voiced concerns that a number of students had been pulled from school by their parents over the playing of nursery rhymes and the lack of gender segregation. School officials have since said that some of these students had been made to attend the Sheikh’s private Quran and Tawhid classes instead.

After recent wide coverage of the issue in local media, residents of Maafushi staged a protest in front of Sheikh Rasheed’s private class “Thahseenul Quran” on Sunday evening.

Vice President of the Maafushi Island Council, Majdha Ibrahim said that approximately 300 people had joined the protest, demanding that the Sheikh “immediately leave Maafushi and stay away.”

According to Majdha, some of the chants the protesters shouted included “Stop creating strife with your twisted words”, “Stop distorting religion to take away our unity” and “Our daughters have a right to education”.

“Yesterday, the council received letters from both the preschool and the school, expressing concern that this man’s preaching was leading to parents who abide by him to take their children out of school. We haven’t received any official complaints about him previously, though we have heard residents voicing concern and disapproval about how his actions are leading to strife in a previously peaceful community,” she said.

Majdha confirmed that the Sheikh had been removed from the island around midnight on Monday with the assistance of a police response team from the capital Male’. Images on social media showed Rasheed wearing a helmet and police body armour.

“Sheikh calls us “ladhini” if we are not like him”

Maafushi Women’s Development Committee President Badurunisa Ibrahim alleged the Sheikh was creating a rift among the island’s citizens, claiming that he was converting more and more people to join his “more extreme version of religion” and forcing them to abide by rules he defined.

“He has been preaching to those who listen to him that playing nursery rhymes in preschool is the same as playing music, which he claims is haram. He has been advising parents to not let girls and boys mix together in school, saying it is anti-Islamic. This is leading to parents taking their kids out of school, which is so very worrying,” she said.

“He initially came to teach Quran at the Children’s Centre here, and then when he got fired, he started teaching private Quran and Tawhid classes. It seems ridiculous that he convinces parents to take children out of school as they are not gender segregated, and then himself proceeds to hold mixed classes for all ages,” she alleged.

Confirming that hundreds of angry protesters had gathered last night, Badurunisa asserted that people were voicing out against the Sheikh only because he was preaching a “twisted and misleading version of religion” and aiming “to create unrest” by forming factions among the people.

“Had he been just here teaching in his private Quran class or preaching actual Islam, none of us would have a problem with him. But when he is outright lying and distorting Islamic values, and brainwashing some people of our island, our community will not simply stand by and watch,” she said.

Stating that the protest had not been against “Islam”, but against abusing religion as a tool for discord, Badurunisa detailed some of what Sheikh Rasheed has been preaching on Maafushi.

“You’ve heard of his hypocritical stance against gender segregation. Besides that, he says that a man’s prayers will not be acceptable unless they are dressed in the Arabian style, salwar kameez. He also preaches that only kafirs do not grow their beards long, that it is haram to wear a necktie, and other such things which I don’t believe are in accordance with actual Islamic values,” Badurunisa said.

“When it comes to females, he speaks strictly against educating girls, or women having careers. He has also said that girls should not be able to participate in our local Quran recitation competition as a female’s voice itself is ‘aurah’ [Islamic term for parts of the body required to be concealed in order to maintain modesty],” she continued.

“He calls any of us who do not dress like him or act like him to be ‘ladini’ [irreligious] or kafir,” she said.

Meanwhile, Kaafu Atoll Council member Ali Shaheen has said that it is of utmost importance that the state finds a solution for similar problems.

“I think a solution for this can be found only when the State begins to take action against people like this Sheikh through the Religious Unity Act. This Act says, in no uncertain times, that it is against the law to create disunity by using religion as a tool. I call upon all relevant actors to view this as a serious issue and take meaningful action to prevent further incidents of this kind,” he said.

“Not a Sheikh, we brought the teacher to safety”: police

“He is not a Sheikh, he is just a teacher who runs a private Quran class in Maafushi,” said a police media official, requesting to not be named.

“All that the protesters demanded was that the teacher be removed from the island. Keeping in mind the recent violent act against a teacher, we responded to the matter and safely brought him to Male’. He was not taken under our custody as such. Upon reaching Male’ we left him to his own resources,” the official stated.

“It’s his own words, we do not endorse them”: Ministry

Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Islamic Affair Mohamed Didi confirmed that they had knowledge of a sheikh creating problems in the island of Maafushi, and that the ministry had advised him against doing so.

“However, we cannot take official action against someone after hearing just one side of the story. We will need to find out what exactly he has been saying. This causes delays in taking action,” Mohamed Didi said.

“In the end, every Sheikh himself must take responsibility for the words he says. I don’t think anyone would have spoken against a Sheikh had they been preaching along Islamic principles. These preachings are his own words, and we do not endorse them,” he continued.

“For example, the issue of gender segregation. There are mixed co-ed schools across the country, even in Male’. The education system is under the Education Ministry. That is how things are and we do not involve ourselves in this,” he stated.

“Our ministry’s policy is to avoid any actions which may cause disputes.”


Salaf sends letter to police requesting information on alleged missionaries

Religious NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf yesterday sent a letter to the police, requesting Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh to disclose information regarding alleged missionaries in the Maldives.

Salaf’s letter requested the commissioner disclose information on an alleged missionary couple who were caught by the Maldives Customs Services and deported.

‘’Two weeks after the couple was deported, another missionary was arrested in Baa Atoll, with Christian books written in Dhivehi, and you have said you were investigating the case,’’ the letter said. “Therefore, this NGO — which researches these people – has sent a letter requesting you share information about these cases from last year, October 29.’’

Salaf’s letter claimed the police did not replied to a earlier letter, in which they noted the arrest of another alleged missionary, named David Balk. Balk was previously living in Thaa Atoll Kinbidhoo last year, and left the Maldives on December 12.

“The aforementioned person mysteriously managed to flee the country. Jamiyyathul Salaf is very seriously concerned that adequate measurements are not taken against such crimes, and therefore, [police] are not providing the protection to the religion of Islam as stated under the constitution of the Maldives.’’

“We request you to reply to our recent letter and now that we have alleged that no lawful action was taken against people like David, and others who have violated the religious unity of the country and the constitution, and we request you investigate and reveal who was responsible for this.’’

‘’Furthermore,” wrote Salaf, “the above mentioned David was reportedly found recently in the Maldives, after the Immigration Department claimed he was deported. Therefore, we would like to inform you that this is also a case we are eager to investigate. Pictures of people who commit such unlawful crimes should be revealed to the media to alert the citizens of the Maldives.’’

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said that police will not disclose information of an investigation to any party “unless it is a party to which police should disclose information.”

“Police always investigate and deport missionaries as soon as possible if they are expats,’’ said Shiyam. “If they are a Maldivian we will take necessary actions against them as well.’’

He said that all the missionary cases [mentioned] were investigated and that police took lawful action against the individuals concerned.


New religious unity regulations: English

This is an unofficial English translation of the new religious unity regulations for the Maldives, produced by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. The original Dhivehi is available on the Ministry’s website, and in the Government Gazette.

UNOFFICIAL TRANSLATION: Regulations on protecting religious unity of Maldivian Citizens

CHAPTER 1: General Clauses

(1) Introduction and title

(a): This is a general Regulations defining general principles to ensure religious unity as authorized by Law No. 6/94, Religious Unity Act of Maldives.

(b): These regulations shall be called ‘Regulations on protecting religious unity of Maldivian Citizens’.


The principles compiled in these regulations aim to maintain the religious harmony existing among Maldivians for eons; solve conflicts that arise from disagreement among Islamic scholars on certain issues; ensure that information regarding such issues are spread so as not to sow discord in society; facilitate Islamic scholars to raise religious awareness among the public; maintain religious unity of Maldivian citizens; and to advice Ministry of Islamic Affairs on such issues to establish an advisory Board, and to set out the responsibilities of such a Board.

(3) Chapters included

These regulations are made up of 5 Chapters. They are,

(1) General areas

(2) Advisory Board on religious unity among Maldivian Citizens

(3) Giving sermons, advice and issuing religious rulings in Maldives

(4) Spreading religions other than Islam

(5) Outlawed actions

(4) Authority tasked with enforcing these regulations

These regulations shall be implemented by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. The Ministry has the right to delegate to another authority enforcing of any actions deemed necessary to maintain religious unity as stipulated by these regulations.

(5) Authority tasked with propagating Islam in Maldives

(a) Ministry of Islamic Affairs shall be the ultimate authority to propagate Islam and dictate its principles.

(b) Ministry of Islamic Affairs shall decree the ‘official fatwa’ as shall be practiced in Maldives where issues of conflict occur among Islamic scholars. Such religious rulings shall be based upon the Quran, the Sunnah (norms) of the Noble Prophet, agreement among the Islamic scholars, and local religious etiquette.

CHAPTER 2: Advisory Board on religious unity among Maldivian Citizens

(6)Compiling the Advisory Board on religious unity among Maldivian Citizens:

The President must establish a special Board, on the advice of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, to provide advice and assistance to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and other relevant authorities in the implementation of Laws and Regulations made to maintain religious unity of Maldivian citizens.

(7) Board’s name

The board’s name shall be ‘Advisory Board on religious unity among Maldivian Citizens.’

(8) Board’s Secretariat

The board’s Secretariat shall be administered by Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

(9) Members making up the board

Ministry of Islamic Affairs will decide on the number of members that shall be represented on the Board. At least one representative from each of the following fields shall be chosen to be on the Board. Ministry of Islamic Affairs must have three members on the Board.

Ministry of Islamic Affairs

Ministry of Education

Maldives Fiqh Academy

Maldives Police Service

Maldives College of Higher Education

A member nominated from among local NGOs

A local Islamic scholar

A person with a legal background

(10)Criteria for qualification as Board Members


(1) The person shall have reached 25 years of age

(2) Having at least a First Degree in Islamic Studies, or Sharia, or (general) law  from an Islamic University recognized by the Government of Maldives

(3) The person shall not be a person who was convicted of a ‘hadh’ crime as stipulated in Islamic Sharia (law)

(11) Board’s Presidency

The Presidency of the Board will be held by the person chosen by the Board Members from among the three Board Members of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. All documents of the Board shall be expressly under the Ministry of Islamic Affair’s name.

(12)Board’s mandate

(a) The Board shall assist the Ministry of Islamic Affairs to formulate and implement policy relating to the above-mentioned licenses as stipulated in these regulations or those regulations which are formulated by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

(b) Give advice to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs whether to revoke or not (preaching) licenses if it is deemed that the person has acted in violation of these regulations.

(c) Give advice and help if such advice and help are required by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs in appealing to relevant government authorities to take legal action against any person whose actions are deemed to be threatening religious unity of Maldivian people, and if it is deemed that such actions need to be brought to an immediate stop.

(d) Recommending to Ministry of Islamic Affairs any amendments needed to be brought to Laws, Regulations and Policies in order to protect religious unity of the Maldivian people.

(e) The Board shall not adopt any decisions that are in violation of the tenets of Islam.

(13)Board’s quorum

A meeting of the Board can be held if at least 5 members from 5 fields are present. (If even one member from any single field is represented, it will be deemed that that sector was represented).

(14)Board’s Decisions

Board’s Decisions can be adopted only by a majority of those present at the Board’s meeting.

CHAPTER  3: Preaching, giving sermons, and issuing religious rulings in the Maldives

(15) Preaching and giving sermons

Preaching, giving sermons, and issuing religious rulings in the Maldives can only be carried out by getting the permission described in Clause 2 (a) of the Maldives’ Religious Unity Act.

(16) Criteria for giving preaching license

(a) The permission mentioned in Clause 15 of these Regulations can be obtained once the application form, and the material and documents prescribed in the form, are forwarded and studied by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and if the Ministry deems the applicant meets the necessary criteria as stipulated in Clause (16) (b).

(b) The following criteria have to be met in order for the Ministry of Islamic Affairs to grant a preaching license, as mentioned in Clause (15) of these Regulations.

(1) The person must belong to any sect of the Sunni Muslims

(2) The person shall have reached 25 years of age

(3) The person shall have attained at least a First Degree in religious studies from a University recognized by the Government of Maldives

(4) The person must not have been found guilty in a Sharia Court of having violated any clause of Law 6/94, Religious Unity Act.

(5) The person must not have been found guilty in a Sharia Court for a crime for which there is a ‘Hadh’, fraud, accepting of bribes, sexual misconduct, and drug abuse.

(c) If a person does not have the Degree as prescribed in Clause (16) (b) (3), the person’s service to religion so far, education and experience can be considered by the Board and exceptions made and permission given by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

(17)Bringing foreigners to conduct religious lectures and giving sermons

(a) A written permission must be obtained for any association, NGO or individual, to bring a foreigner for preaching and giving sermons in Maldives.

(b) The permission mentioned in this Clause shall be given after the person is deemed to meet the criteria — after study of the person’s background and in accordance with policies set by the Board, once the application form for a preaching license, together with the material prescribed in the form, and certificates of qualifications are forwarded to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

(18) Translation

If a foreign preacher’s sermon is to be translated into Dhivehi, any such translation should be carried out by a person or organization permitted by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

(19)Foreign preachers to respect local norms

Foreign preachers should shape their sermons in line with Maldives norms, traditions, culture and social etiquette.

(20) Issuing religious rulings

(a) In Maldives all religious rulings shall be issued in line with the sects of Sunni Muslims.

(b) A ruling cannot be issued that is in contravention of what is generally accepted among majority of Islamic scholars.

(c) Rulings on controversial issues shall be issued in line with the general guidelines of ‘Fiqh.’

(d) While preaching in Maldives, any preacher should act in accordance with the religious rulings issued by the following institutions:

(1) Islamic Fiqh Academy of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)

(2) European Council for Fatwa and Research

(3) Dhaarul Ifthaaeel Misriyya of Egypt

(4) Allajunathudhdhaaimathul Lil Buhoolil Ilmiyaavalifthaai

(5) Majmaul Buhoolil Islamiyyaa of Al Azhar University of Egypt

(6) Islamic Fiqh Academy of Maldives

(7) Fiqh Academy of Raabithathul Aalamil Islamee

CHAPTER 4: Spreading religions other than Islam

(21)Maintaining religious unity

It is an obligation on the Government and all the people of Maldives to protect the religious unity of Maldivian citizens as Maldives is a 100 percent Muslim nation and because Islam maintains harmony of Maldivian citizens and because Islam is the basis of the unity of Maldivian citizens.

(22)Immunity granted for activity conducted for scholarly pursuit

These Regulations do not prohibit, for scholarly reasons, or for research, surveys, and lectures that are given under formal education; and information disclosed about other religions, if such information is disseminated to contrast Islam and other religions.

(23)Exemption for archaeological artifacts and historical sites

Archaeological sites and artifacts that have been and are being discovered in Maldives shall be exempt from these Regulations, including maintenance and protection of such, in order to retain them for history.

(24) Authority to deport anyone who propagates any religion other than Islam

Ministry of Islamic Affairs has the authority to order all relevant authorities to deport for a definite period, or deport for life, all foreigners who propagate any religion other than Islam or engage in spreading of beliefs that contravene any of the sects of the Sunni Muslims — if such a person is accused with ample evidence of any such illegal action or action that is related to propagation of other religions.

CHAPTER 5: Giving religious education in Maldives

(25) Operating institutions which give religious education

Any institution which gives religious education can only do so with express permission from the relevant government authority.

(26)Finalizing curriculum for religious education

(a) Any subject relating to religion shall be taught in accordance with the curriculum that is approved by the Government.

(b) Curriculum on religious education shall be modeled, and such education carried out, in ways that will not violate the religious unity of Maldives.

CHAPTER 6: Prohibited activity

(27) Illegal actions while preaching giving sermons and issuing religious rulings

The following actions are prohibited when preaching, giving sermons and issuing religious rulings in Maldives.

Promoting one’s own individual opinion on issues that are in disagreement among Islamic scholars.

Encouraging violence; inciting people to disputes, hatred and resentment; and any talk that aims to degrade a certain sex and gender in violation of Islamic tenets. Telecasting and broadcasting of such speeches shall be deemed illegal.

Fabricating lies against trustworthy Islamic scholars and scholars who are Sunni Muslims.

Promoting your opinion, if such opinion violates a religious ruling as unanimously agreed upon by the Fiqh Academy of Maldives.

Talking about religions other than Islam in Maldives, and propagating such religions.

Talking about the culture and traditions of other religions in a way that aims to coerce a person’s mind to favor those religions; or any attempts to create such a spirit amongst the people.

(28) Acting in violation of these regulations, during preaching, by those who are licensed to preach

(a) If anyone talks against Clause 27 of these Regulations, the person shall be prosecuted under the Religious Unity Act, and in addition, as an administrative measure, preaching licenses shall be revoked, or held for a definite period. These Regulations empower the Ministry of Islamic Affairs to take such action.

(b If, in the spirit of these Regulations, a licensed preacher reveals aspects of Islamic Sharia as beheld by the sects among Sunni Muslims, Islamic scholars, and the evidence that they favor, such action shall not be deemed to be in violation of these Regulations.

(29) If a Maldivian or foreigner preaches, gives sermons and issues religious rulings, in violation of these Regulations

It is illegal for any Maldivian or foreigner to preach, give sermons and issue religious rulings in violation of these Regulations.

It is illegal for any person, other than those licensed, to preach and give sermons in public places.

(30) Propagating any religion other than Islam or building places of worship of other religions
Propagating any religion other than Islam in Maldives and trying to convert people to any other religion are prohibited actions for both Maldivians and foreigners.

It is illegal to build in Maldives buildings or places of worship of other religions.

In Maldives, any slogan that is representative of any religion other than Islam, shall not be produced and distributed.

It is illegal in Maldives to use any kind of medium to propagate any religion other than Islam; such media shall not be used to share or exchange information that may stir interest in any other religion.

(31)Translating into Dhivehi books on other religions and distribution of such translations

In Maldives, it is illegal to translate into Dhivehi, books or various other sources of information on other religions, and print, distribute or spread such material.

(32) Insulting or committing any action that may offend Islamic slogans

(a) Committing any action, uttering a word, or drawing anything that insults Allah, His Prophets and Messengers, the Companions of Prophet Mohamed (PBUH).

(b) It is illegal to utter a word or commit an action that insults the Koran, Islamic Mosques, and other Islamic slogans.

(33) Non-Muslims expressing their religious slogans or carrying out their religious activities

It is illegal for non-Muslims who visit Maldives and non-Muslims who live in Maldives to express their religious slogans; publicly display objects that express religious slogans of non-Muslims; gather at places and get into groups to express their religious slogans; sell objects of their worship; conduct any activity with an intention of spreading their religious slogans; participation of a Maldivian in any such activity; and allowing a Maldivian to participate in such an activity.

(34) Propagating any religion other than Islam

(a) It is illegal to propagate in Maldives any religion other than Islam and inviting people to such religions.

(b) It is illegal for any foreign non-Muslim teacher teaching in Maldives, and other such people, to talk about any religion other than Islam, in schools and outside of schools.

(35) Telecasting, broadcasting, and printing of programs that may result in damage to religious unity of Maldives

(a) It is illegal for any party licensed to telecast and broadcast to show programs or spread sound bites of programs that harass Allah, the Noble Prophet or any of his Companions, or the Noble Quran, or the Noble Prophet’s Sunnah or the Islamic religion. And it is illegal to show or spread sound bites of programs on religions other than Islam, and any such literature, drawings, advertisements, music, and songs.

(b) It is illegal to use any Internet website, blog, newspaper, or magazine to publish such material as mentioned in Clause (35) (a).

(c) It is illegal for any parties conducting business in Maldives and companies to act in a way that disrupts Islamic etiquette when advertising their products or making announcements.

(36) Providing education on any religion other than Islam and providing education against the rulings of sects among the Sunni Muslims

(a) It is illegal to provide education on any religion other than Islam in anywhere in Maldives.

(b) It is illegal to provide education in Maldives that flaunt the principles of the sects among the Sunni Muslims.

(37) Prayer congregation

(a) It is illegal to lead a prayer congregation in a mosque in Maldives against the principles of the sects among the Sunni Muslims. Prayers should be conducted according to the Quran and the Sunnah of the Noble Prophet.

(b) It is illegal to conduct a separate private prayer congregation away from the main congregation while the main congregation is in progress inside that mosque; to be of the opinion that the official congregations in Maldives are not lawful and therefore deliberately staying away from main congregations; later in that mosque or elsewhere conducting a separate congregation in order to divide the society.

(c) It is illegal to conduct a congregation of Juma prayer, or Eid prayer, or Eclipse prayer in violation of principles set by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

(38) Punishment

All that is prohibited in these Regulations, and those actions which the Regulations call on people not to engage in, shall be deemed an offence. The punishment for any offense, for which any specific punishment is not prescribed in these regulations, shall be the punishment prescribed in Law 6/94, Religious Unity Act.

(39) Glossary

(a) The “Board” that is referred to in these Regulations is the advisory Board to maintain religious unity among Maldivian citizens that is appointed by the President of the Republic of Maldives on the advice of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs in order to protect the religious unity of Maldivian citizens.



(2) Any word that is used in these Regulations shall be translated generally into the way the word is generally understood in a general context.

(3) …

(40) Start of implementation of these Regulations

These Regulations will be implemented from the day it is published in the Government Gazette.