#14 in Christian persecution, Maldives

SCORE 77.04

REGION

Asia

PERSECUTION TYPE

Islamic oppression

RELIGION

Islam

PERSECUTION LEVEL

Very High

POPULATION

466,000

CHRISTIAN

Hundreds

GOVERNMENT

Presidential republic

LEADER

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih

PROFILE OF PERSECUTION

Violence 0.4/16.7

Church Life 16.5/16.7

National Life 15.8/16.7

Community Life 13.7/16.7

Family Life 15.3/16.7

Private Life 15.4/16.7

How the scoring worksDownload country dossier with in-depth research

What does persecution look like in Maldives?

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.

What has changed this year?

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.

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

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.

What does Open Doors do to help?

Open Doors raises prayer support for believers in the Maldives.

Number of Christians statistic is an Open Doors estimate

Pray for Maldives

  • Pray for believers in Maldives who must sustain their faith in isolation and secrecy. Ask God to fill their hearts with the sense of His presence and care.

  • Pray that President Solih and his government would soften their stance toward Christians and other religious minorities—as they realize that diversity enriches the country’s national culture.

  • Ask God to guide and protect expatriate migrant worker believers as they interact with tourists and Maldivian residents. Pray they will be salt and light that draws people to Jesus.


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