The Maldives government has recalled a school textbook that contained illustrations of two churches, after protests from parents.

The social studies textbook was for children in Grades 1-4 at the Gateway International School. The new management at the school has been accused by a local news website, Miadhu, of using the school as “a gateway to turning Maldivians [in]to Christians”.

When a state-owned building had earlier been handed over to the school’s management company to launch the school in November, there had been allegations of corruption, but the Anti-Corruption Commission had found no fault.

This latest development, on top of the appointment of a radical cleric to the highest Islamic council in the country, has led to fears of an increase in Islamic conservatism.

Thomas Muller, analyst at the World Watch Research unit of Open Doors, which works with Christians under pressure worldwide, said: “That the mere picture of a church is seen as promoting Christianity and potential proselytism shows how deeply ingrained the fear of the Muslim majority is. The appointment of a radical cleric to the highest Islamic council also fits this pattern and will lead expatriate Christians to exercise even more caution and indigenous Christians to take the utmost care in remaining undiscovered.”

The Maldives is 13th on Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of the 50 countries in which it is most difficult to live as a Christian.

Source: Maldives Independent