There are estimated to be a very smaller number of Christians in the Maldives. The vast majority of people living there are Muslim.
The Maldives – a densely populated chain of nearly 1,200 islands – are viewed by many as a luxury holiday destination, but behind the beauty of this island paradise lies an oppressive regime.
The close-knit, homogeneous community keeps close watch on each other for any sign of deviation – which naturally includes religious choice. All politicians relentlessly claim that they are keeping the Maldives 100 per cent Muslim, leaving effectively no space for any alternative.
Conversion to Christianity can result in harassment, violence or imprisonment. Women could also be forced to marry a Muslim to lure them back to Islam. Vigilante mobs have been known to abduct citizens suspected of being irreligious or non-Muslim.
Expatriate Christians, most of them working in the tourist sector and coming from India and Sri Lanka, are also closely watched, making Christian fellowship very difficult.
The oppressive regime makes it effectively impossible for Christians to openly express their faith in Jesus. Women and girls, for example, must still abide by traditional dress codes, otherwise they risk dangerously exposing themselves. Remarkably, husbands, wives and children may not even know of each other’s faith – such is the dangers it could entail.
Sadly, the new government, inaugurated in November 2018, is showing no signs of hesitation in its determination to keep the islands entirely free from religious influence that’s not Islamic.
That said, a speech by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in 2019 suggested a determination to work with other countries to root out racism, xenophobia and hate speech. This is good news, given that Maldivians have been taught from a young age to hate Westerners and non-Muslims in general. There is little hint of tangible change yet, but it’s a glimmer of hope for us to build prayers from.
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in the Maldives. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors raises prayer support for believers in the Maldives.
Lord Jesus, we pray for our brothers and sisters in the Maldives who are courageously following you in secret, despite the dangers they face. Thank you that you know each one by name and love them dearly. Protect, help and encourage them, and provide ways for Christians to meet safely. Soften the heart of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih towards Christians. Amen.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.