Local scholar Dr Iyaz condemns hate crime amendment as “Satan’s Bill”

Maldivian Islamic scholar Dr Mohamed Iyaz | Photo: Avas

Malé, Maldives – Popular Maldivian religious scholar Dr Mohamed Iyaz has described the amendments to the Maldives Penal Code (Law No. 6/2014) to criminalize hate speech and crimes as “Satan’s Bill” and condemned the amendment.

In a tweet, Dr Iyaz said that if the bill is passed and ratified, it is a major win for the secularists. “The “laadheenee” secularists are trying to refocus the Satan’s Bill, currently in the Maldives Parliament. If the bill is passed it is a major win for the “laadheenee” secularists. Therefore, everyone must go against the bill,” said Dr Iyaz.

The proposed amendments in the bill are being criticized by the public and several Islamic scholars, with 101 religious scholars of Maldives raising their voices against the controversial amendment.

The bill was sponsored by MP for Thulhaadhoo Constituency, Hisaan Hussain on behalf of the government. It was accepted with 38 votes, while 17 members were against it. The bill was then sent to the Judiciary Committee for further research.

The amendment proposed that hate speech or physical crimes against a person after labelling them as secular or anti-Muslim or being an accomplice to such acts are a felony. This includes using a person’s political and religious beliefs as a motive for violence. This article of the amendment is highly criticized by religious scholars.

The bill also includes other hate crime amendments encompassing supporting, threatening, kidnapping, attacking a person based on their race, nationality, and skin colour.

The Parliamentary Judiciary Committee on 23 June 2021, decided to proceed with the bill on amendments to criminalize hate crimes following a minority of the committee voting to dismiss the bill as proposed by MP of Guraidhoo Constituency Ibrahim Riza.