President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih
Government officials in Maldives proudly emphasize that the country is 100% Muslim. Locals are on the watch for anything that deviates from Maldivian belief—particularly conversion from Islam to another faith. Conversion will be reported to Muslim leaders or authorities; non-Muslims can also lose their citizenship. For these reasons, being known as a Christian is so dangerous that there is no ability to meet as a fellowship community, which means that whole families may be Christian without ever knowing the rest of their family shares their faith. This lack of Christian support stifles believers’ spiritual growth.
While Christians live in Maldives, they are mostly from India and Sri Lanka who have come to work in the tourist industry. These believers are also watched by authorities, making it difficult for even foreign migrant Christians to fellowship. And although the Islamic culture is ultra-conservative, even more Muslim extremist groups have returned to the country, placing Christian converts at further risk.
The level of pressure on Christians remained very high. Converts have no space at all to live out their Christian faith and expatriate Christians (often migrant workers) lack possibilities for worshiping together without fearing arrest and deportation. The new government, which took over in mid-November 2018, has made no tangible improvements as regards freedom of religion and is more focused on internal political struggles. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many Christian expatriates returned to their home countries; however, with the gradual opening up of the tourist sector, they are slowly returning to the pressure cooker of the Maldives.
Made up of nearly 1,200 islands just southwest of India in the Indian Ocean, Maldives is a luxury destination for travelers around the world. To avoid international scrutiny, persecution takes place outside of the islands reserved for international tourists. At all times, any believer who has converted from Islam is in imminent danger of exposure and punishment from both the state and their community.
Open Doors raises prayer support for believers in the Maldives.