Maldives bans Israeli citizens, Christian leader warns: ‘It’s not safe for any of us’

The Maldives, a popular tourist destination, has announced it is banning Israelis from entering the country due to growing anger among its Muslim population over the war in Gaza.

President Mohammed Muizzu of the Indian Ocean island nation announced he was enacting a ban this week after receiving a recommendation from his cabinet.

“The Cabinet decision includes amending the laws necessary to prevent Israeli passport holders from entering the Maldives and establishing a Cabinet subcommittee to oversee these efforts,” his office said in a statement.

In addition, the president plans to appoint a special envoy to assess the needs of the Palestinians to launch a fundraising campaign with the help of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

As CBN News reported, UNRWA fired employees earlier this year because they were suspected of participating in the October 7 mass terrorist attack by Hamas in southern Israel.

According to the State Department, the Maldivian constitution “designates Islam as the state religion, requires citizens to be Muslim, and requires public office holders, including the president, to be followers of Sunni Islam.”

“The propagation of any religion other than Islam is a criminal offence, and the law criminalises ‘criticism of Islam’ and speech ‘in a manner likely to cause religious segregation,’” it adds.

Only 11,000 Israelis visited the Maldives last year, which represented 0.6 percent of total tourist arrivals, the Associated Press reports.

Reverend Johnnie Moore, president of the Congress of Christian Leaders, responded to the ban on X by saying: “If the Maldives is not safe for Israelis, then it is not safe for any of us.”

He indicated Christian solidarity with Israelis, saying: “The Congress of Christian Leaders issues a global travel warning: No Christian should feel safe in a country where Islamic extremists determine national policy.”

Gary Leff for View from the Wing also criticized the country’s politics.

“Maldives has not condemned combatants nesting in hospitals and schools, using human shields or raping civilian hostages,” he wrote. “Make no mistake, this is not banning world leaders you disagree with, this is banning all citizens of the Jewish state.”

The State Department is warning travelers to be cautious in the Maldives due to terrorism.

“Terrorist groups may launch attacks with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/malls, and local government facilities,” the US government warns.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry has advised its citizens to avoid the Maldives, even for those with dual citizenship.

“For Israeli citizens already in the country, it is recommended that they consider leaving, because if they find themselves in danger for any reason, it will be difficult for us to assist,” the ministry said, according to Reuters.

Israeli social media influencer Hananya Naftali urged Israelis and others to visit other beaches where they will “welcome you with open arms and warm hospitality.”

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