Maldives Releases
Detained Christians
Future of Maldivian Christians
Still Uncertain in Muslim Nation
LONDON, 23 November 1998--Authorities have released a 
group of more than 20 Maldivian Christians arrested in June on 
religious grounds, according to the human rights group Christian 
Solidarity Worldwide. The Christians, some of whom remained in 
prison for as long as four months, still face uncertainty regarding 
freedom to practice their faith in the self-proclaimed Muslim 
nation, the London-based group said.

The Maldives, an Indian Ocean archipelago southwest of Sri 
Lanka, requires that all citizens be Muslim. In June the 
government began unannounced searches of the homes of 
suspected Christians, confiscated possessions and imprisoned more 
than 20 people, CSW says. Though charges were alleged, the 
process by-passed the judicial system and no trial took place. The 
government expelled 19 foreigners in the crackdown.

The Maldivian government has consistently denied that anyone has 
been imprisoned for their faith. Tight media control has ensured 
that only one or two articles confirming the arrests reached the 
outside world. While the Maldivian government seemed initially 
resistant to pressure, they unexpectedly began releasing the 
prisoners to house arrest in late August. More releases followed 
and in the last week restrictions have finally been lifted on all the 
individuals involved.

CSW says that Maldivian authorities pressed the Christians to 
recant their faith during their imprisonment and forced them to 
read the Koran and undertake the daily Muslim prayers.

CSW’s religious liberty director Tina Lambert says, "While we are, 
of course, relieved by the release of these individuals, the situation 
in this 'holiday paradise' has yet to improve, and discreet pressure 
must be maintained".

Source: Christian Solidarity Worldwide/Tina Lambert


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