Parliament committee approves bill to criminalize hate crimes with amendments

Judiciary Committee of Parliament | Photo: Majlis

Malé, Maldives – The Judiciary Committee of the Parliament of Maldives has approved the bill to criminalize hate crimes with some major amendments.

The Committee has combined the bills to criminalize religiously motivated hate crimes and criminalize the mockery of Islam together and published a report detailing the amendments. The new amendments address issues raised by various parties including religious scholars regarding the original controversial bill to criminalize hate crimes.

The new amendment details conditions under which it is a crime to label a Muslim as a non-muslim or against Islam. This includes an exemption clause 124 (b) stating that it is not a crime to preach Islam by explaining the tenets and teachings.

Further, the amendment clarifies the conditions in which it is a criminal action to label someone as against Islam. This includes such instances where a person is labelled as non-muslim in a public setting although a Muslim has not,

  • Gone against the rulings of Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah.
  • Purposefully stated or acted to indicate that they have renounced Islam.

The bill adds social media and media as a public setting.

In addition, the new amendment criminalizes mocking Islam. The bill criminalizes,

  • Using any forms of communication with the intention to mock Islam, including using words or actions to spread false information on Allah, the tenets of Islam and Prophet Muhammad’s Sunnah.
  • Importing and using idols used for worship in the Maldives.
  • Creating discontent within the community against Islam.

The punishment for both these criminal actions, claiming a Muslim as a non-muslim or mocking Islam, maybe up to imprisonment for 4 years and 24 days.