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American NGO Condemns Maldives Constitution Over Religion Clause

ICC Note: The Maldives’ new constitution requires all citizens to be Muslims. This may have serious repercussions for Christians and other minorities.

By Olivia Lang in Malé
8/9/08 Maldives (Minivan News) – An American-based NGO promoting religious pluralism has condemned the Maldives’ new constitution over a clause requiring all citizens to be Muslims, saying it does not conform to international norms and human rights.

The Institute on Religion and Public Policy (IRPP) says the regulation in the country’s new constitution – ratified on Thursday – undermines basic guarantees of rights and freedoms.

The move follows criticism from US Ambassador Robert Blake, who also said the clause violated international covenants, describing it as a “concern” earlier this week.

The clause was left unchanged in the constitutional drafting process – despite being flagged up as a controversial issue – due to its sensitive nature in an Islamic country.

Islam Only

Article 9, Section D of the constitution now states that “a non-Muslim may not become a citizen of the Maldives,” which the IRPP says violates minorities’ freedom of worship.

“This denial of citizenship to non-Muslims is an extraordinarily harsh measure which places the Maldives among the worst countries in the world in regards to the legal foundation for freedom of religion and belief,” the Institute President Joseph K. Grieboski is reported to have said.

The Maldives government says the country is 100 per cent Muslim, and also bans the import of un-Islamic texts or symbols…. [Go To Full Story]