Maldives Israel ban backfires after country realises 2m Muslims would be barred from entry

The island nation threatened the ban last month over Israel’s war in Gaza


In this photograph taken on September 24, 2023, tourists disembark from a seaplane at a resort in Baa Atoll in Maldives. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

The Maldives is pausing plans to ban Israelis from entering the country after the government realised the new law could impact 2 million Arab-Israelis.

The predominantly Muslim archipelago’s President Mohamed Muizzu said his cabinet originally planned to change the laws to prevent Israeli passport holders or Israeli dual-citizens from entering the country.

And last week the nation’s attorney general Ahmed Usham who referred to Arab-Israelis as ‘Palestinians’ was concerned about the new law affecting them.

He reportedly said: “The biggest concern is that there are many Palestinians with Israeli passports, millions of them. What happens when we impose the blanket ban on them?”

Meanwhile, lawmaker Qasim Ibrahim reportedly critiqued the bill for targeting Jewish Israelis after saying, “When we decide that a person with Israeli nationality can’t come to the Maldives, that means we’re talking about deciding that Jews can’t come.

“Therefore, as they are people who have believed in prophets of a religion revealed by Allah, we need to think very deeply about the chance of us doing such a thing, from that perspective, we need to think about that very carefully.”

The Maldives decision came after pressure from opposition parties and government allies in the 100 per cent Sunni Muslim nation to ban Israelis as a result of the Israel-Hamas war.

Around 528 Israeli nationals visited the Maldives from January to April this year. This was down from 4,644 in the same period in 2023, according to Maldives government data.

Nearly 11,000 Israelis visited the archipelago last year, accounting for 0.6 per cent of total tourist arrivals.

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