Christian Leader Jailed in the Maldives for Carrying Christian Books

ICC Note:

A Christian leader from Bangladesh has been jailed in the Maldives for being caught with Christian books. According to the law in the Maldives, it is illegal to carry any literature that contradicts Islam. The Christian leaders family is engaging a lawyer to fight for his safe release.

10/18/2012 Bangladesh (InternationalChristianResponse) – A 46-year-old Christian leader from Bangladesh has been jailed in the Maldives for smuggling Christian literature into the “100 percent Muslim” archipelago in the Indian Ocean.

Jathish Biswas, executive director of a Christian ministry Way of Life Trust, was arrested at Male Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) by custom officials on Sept. 27, a close friend of Biswas told HMK on phone.

Biswas’ family is in the process of engaging a lawyer in the Maldives to ensure his safety and early release.

When Biswas arrived at the airport of the national capital, Male, on Sept. 27, custom officials opened his bags and found 11 Christian books, typed in the Maldivian language, Dhivehi. Law in this Sunni Muslim nation of about 300,000 people states that visitors cannot carry any material contradicting Islam.

Later the same day, airport officials also arrested a Maldivian citizen for carrying Christian books. The Maldivian man, who was not identified, has links with Biswas, Chief Customs Officer Ahmed Samah said at a press conference earlier this month in Male, calling it a “very serious case.”

The Maldives’ Religious Unity Act strictly bans propagation or even subtle promotion of any faith other than Sunni Islam and calls for five years of prison and a fine of up to US$1,300. It adds that if the offender is a foreigner, she or he shall just be deported.

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