Freedom of religion in the Maldives

The 2008 constitution of the Maldives designates Islam as the state religion. Only Muslims are allowed to hold citizenship in the country and are barred from practicing any faith other than Islam. Non-Muslim citizens of other nations can only practice their faith in private and are barred from propagation of other faiths. It is required for any resident to teach their child in the Muslim faith. The president, ministers, parliamentarians and chiefs of the atolls are required to be Sunni Muslims. Government regulations are based on Islamic law. Only certified Muslim scholars can give fatawa.[1]

As of 2007, freedom of religion remained severely restricted, with some individual societal abuses or discrimination based on religious belief or practice. According to many officials and interlocutors, most citizens regarded Islam as one of their society's most distinctive characteristics and believed that it promotes harmony and national identity.[2] Since 2014, apostasy from Islam has been punishable with capital penalty.

Religions demography

The country has an area of 500 square miles (1,300 km2) distributed across 1,200 coral atolls and islands, with a population of around 450,000.

The population is a distinct ethnic group with historical roots in South Indian, Sinhalese, and Arab communities[citation needed]. The vast majority of the Muslim population practices Sunni Islam. Non-Muslim foreigners, including more than 500,000 tourists who visit annually (predominantly Europeans and Japanese) and approximately 54,000 foreign workers (mainly Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Indians, and Bangladeshis), are in general allowed to practice their religions only in private. Although Muslim tourists and Muslim foreign workers are allowed to attend local mosque services, most practice Islam in private or at mosques located at the resorts where they work and live.[2]