Christian deported for owning a Bible in restrictive nation

By November 3, 2011

Maldives (MNN) — An Indian Christian had been a teacher in Maldives for two years when he was deported. His crime: owning a Bible.

Voice of the Martyrs reports that 30-year-old Indian Christian Shijo Kakkattu was deported in mid-October. According to Compass Direct News, a co-worker reported Kakkattu to the National Administrative Center after finding Christian materials on a school computer.

Reports say Kakkattu accidentally transferred material from his flash drive onto the school's computer. Mohamed Shiraj, the principal of Raafainu School in Raa Atool, told Minivan News, "The videos were in Indian, so I don't know what they were saying; but the images were Christian."

VOM confirms that police then raided Kakkattu's house and discovered a Bible and other Christian materials. They then charged him with preaching the Christian faith in the Muslim nation of Maldives, which recently tightened restrictions on preaching and practicing non-Islamic faiths. Police took Kakkattu to another island for interrogation and held him for 15 days before deporting him back to India.

Last month, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs published new regulations under the Protection of Religious Unity Act of 1994, says VOM. Anything that represents a religion other than Islam is strictly prohibited, according to Compass Direct News. Web sites, blogs, newspapers and magazines are forbidden from publishing anything contradictory to Islam. Violators face 2-5 years in prison, house arrest, or banishment. As in Kakkattu's case, foreigners accused of proselytizing will be deported.

Maldives ranks sixth on the Open Doors World Watch List for the persecuted church. Pray for protection for Maldivian believers. Pray that they will continue to boldly preach the Gospel as the Holy Spirit leads.

Learn more about Maldives and the nation's attitude toward believers here.

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