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Ministry To Block Access To Christian Website

ICC Note: A country that thrives on tourists from the West is now seeking to block access to Christian literature in its people’s language on the web.

By Ibrahim Mohamed
12/4/08 Maldives (Minivan News) – The Ministry of Islamic Affairs announced on Saturday that it would block a website promoting Christianity aimed at Maldivians.

Minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari said the ministry had consulted experts to find ways to block the site, which was both in Dhivehi and English. He did not reveal the website’s address.

When questioned about the proposed censorship and the content of the website, Majeed refused to speak to Minivan News.

On Tuesday, as Minivan News searched for the site, it came across www.sidahitun.com, which contains material about Jesus Christ and Christian songs published in Dhivehi. The following morning, access to the site was denied.

Sheikh Ibrahim Fareed Ahmed, known for his inflammatory sermons, agreed that all anti-Islamic websites should be banned. “Although this is an Islamic society, some Maldivians’ faith in Islam is not very strong” he said.

“If they have access to these websites because their belief in Islam is weak, there might be a negative impact.”

Fareed added that in order to combat religious apathy, the government should arrange more programmes to promote religious awareness.

“If the faith of Maldivians is strong enough, even hundreds of anti-Islamic websites would not work,” he said.

A similar view was upheld by scholar Sheikh Usman Abdullah who said that as the Maldives is recognised as a wholly Muslim society, all anti-Islamic activities, including websites promoting Christianity, should be prohibited.

“Such websites are not only blocked in the Maldives but also in other Islamic countries,” he said.

Samuel Wallace, International Christian Concern’s regional manager for South Asia, said he was alarmed to hear officials in the Maldives were seeking to block Christian websites.

“As a member of the United Nations, the Maldives has an obligation to protect the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” he said. “This includes in Article 18 the ‘right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

“Blocking Christian websites would be a step backwards for the Maldives, making the country more likely to violate other fundamental human rights,” he added… [Go To Full Story]