Maldives – Had a ‘Spaful’ of Extremism?

The following post was written in January last year. Since then Mohamed Nasheed the first democratically elected president has been replaced, fundamental forces have continued to rise in influence despite claims otherwise and the culture of floggings continues unabated.

A 15 year old girl who was raped for years by her step-father, and then subsequently murdered her resulting child is the latest injustice. She has been sentenced to be flogged for sex outside of marriage actually her crime is being raped has justifiably received worldwide condemnation. Including from many moderate Muslim groups.

A petition with nearly 2 million names has been signed and there are many calling for a boycott of Maldivian tourism. There are reports that a number of bookings have already been cancelled.

The original post generated a heated discussion, with a number of commentors from the Maldives denying any such situation existed in the Maldives. Refuting the allegations of floggings as misinformed media propaganda. Current events suggest otherwise, this is my first call to arms on this sight, people please sign this petition, help stop this reprehensible and senseless flogging and let’s continue to fight against injustice everywhere!

Islamic extremisim in the Maldives on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography 4644_g2_1_460x230

Image courtesy of

The story that the Maldives government has bowed to Islamic extremism and ordered the closure of spa resorts has been in the news for several days now.

It appears that the majority of large resort hotels have ignored the ban. It has been heavily criticised by the tourism chiefs who claimed it is a violation of lease agreements and not helpful to the needs of tourism at all.

“anti-Islamic activities.”

There was the threat of legal action with at least two court actions being reported as filed. The latest news is that the government appears to have done a U-turn and rescinded the ban.

The original reason for the closure of spas was in response to protests demanding an end to “anti-Islamic activities.” As well as the closure of spas and massage parlours as promoters of prostitution, the banning of the sale of alcohol, destruction of monuments described as ‘false idols’ and the proposal to allow direct flights from Israel were all subjects of the protest.

Extremism in paradise, luxury lodging in the Islamic Maldives on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography canstockphoto7514111

A typical Maldives Atoll Image: Stock Library

The Indian Ocean archipelago of nearly 2,000 islands is dependent on tourism and many of its 330,000 Muslims work within the industry.

Attracting many high-end tourists, its luxury hotels, crystal clear waters and pristine beaches are a magnet to those seeking a paradise. Any threat to this industry seems counterproductive. Whilst a substantial number of visitors come for the outstanding diving it is the luxury end of the market that is the real money earner here.

The protests were backed by several of the large hotel chain operators in the islands, many of which back the opposition party. They claim the ban is revenge against them for this, and possibly to pressure them into a more liberal stance.

President Mohamed Nasheed recently urged the country to resist extremism and retain more tolerant Islamic beliefs for its own good. He may have been playing a particularly shrewd game here appearing to bow to pressure from extremists whilst issuing a ban which was not in their own interests.

Some of the tourism chiefs have spoken out since explaining they only required certain massage parlours closed to prevent the spread of prostitution, or perhaps more accurately to remove any independent competitors?

It is already forbidden to bring alcohol into the country, but there are further worries that the call on a ban on the selling of alcohol will mean tourists will be unable to purchase in the hotels. This would surely prove detrimental to travel to the islands.

“Islamic fundamentalism is increasing within the Maldives”

A spokesman for the tourism industry claimed that travellers are respected and welcome, however it was only last year a hotel employee conducting a wedding ceremony for a Swiss couple described them as “infidel swine.” This is an isolated case but undoubtedly Islamic fundamentalism is increasing within the Maldives, which may involve an increase in such views and will cause concern for some visitors.

It is easy to view extremists as the ‘spoilsports’ of the World, only wishing to ruin the enjoyment of others. This is far too simplistic, however the great pity with extremism of any kind is that it is not tolerant of the beliefs and values of others. Followers rarely listen to the views of others however well reasoned, they seek to enforce their own beliefs, or worse still destroy alternatives.

The Maldivian extremism issue is likely to run for some time yet, and it is likely that other travel destinations will have similar problems with the intolerant within their society. It is only possible to observe and hope that a sensible compromise is reached and ‘paradises’ or countries of great cultural interest do not become ‘no go zones,’  if only for their own sakes.


Comments 34

  1. Matthias Isoke

    I have read your article very carefully and I’d like to make a correction.

    Para #4 is correct like this:

    (1) The original reason for the closure of spas was in response to protests demanding an end to “anti-Islamic activities.” As well as the closure of spas and massage parlors that engaged in in prostitution and the banning of the sale of alcohol in Male and other inhabited islands, Not Tourist Resorts. Destruction of monuments described as ‘false idols’ and the proposal to allow direct flights from Israel were all subjects of the protest.

    Para #9
    Some of the tourism chiefs have spoken out since explaining they only required certain massage parlours closed to prevent the spread of prostitution, or perhaps more accurately to remove any independent competitors?
    The spa’s that engaged in prostitution for locals in the Capital and other inhabited islands are not a competition to the professional spa’s in the resorts. so I would end the sentence above with the (.) following prostitution to make the statement absolutely correct.

    Para #11
    Yes you are right it was in isolated case of undeciplined staff of a particular resort. But it’s incorrect to say that Islamic fundermentalism is increasing within the Maldives. Maldives was and will be an Islamic country. We are liberal muslims and we will remain liberal.
    This Government led by Mohamed Nasheed who has made promises of putting up a Cathedral in the place of the Islamic Centre in Maldives is propagating this notion in the international media. a copy of a letter from his Keeper in Salisbury is posted here .

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      Thank you Matthias for your comments in the interests of fair comment have I have approved it, though as there does not appear to be any corroborating evidence for your opinion as opposed to my own I am not prepared to make any corrections. I have read various sources on the subject and these are facts and opinions obtained from these sources. Undisciplined or not I am afraid from what I understand the opinion expressed by the hotel employee is not totally isolated and whilst the Maldives have been liberal there is evidence that there are calls for a return to ‘traditional’ Islamic values, which means it is spreading.

      As for the comment on competition it was a question, asking whether the chains themselves had an ulteria motive for wanting the massage parlours closed. Please explain how they are not any competition for them, after all a corner shop selling produce is still competition for a major chain supermarket?

  2. Matthias Isoke

    Well thank you Iain,
    This is becoming very interesting conversation. I live my life here in the capital and I am a witness to the lunacy that is going on here. I don’t have to read statements from the President’s Office or any opposing political parties or victims of circumstances for corroboration. What I say is what I witnessed. Ok having said that, The Adhalath Party if you know, has been calling for closures of Massage parlors in inhabited islands (islands villages, towns and cities) where Maldivians live. They also advocated against governments move to sell liquor in Male and other inhabited islands. If you have been following developments in the Maldives you should be aware of this. Holiday Inn moved out of Male, because, they did not get permission to sell liquor in Male. In its place is the Traders Hotel. NO LIQOUR IS SOLD IN MALE.
    If you think it’s in the interest of tourism to be able to buy a bottle of wine in a friendly neighborhood unit shop in Male (if you may). But No! Cos we have succeeded as a nation that is tolerant of Liquor in the hands of and for foreigners only (non-Maldivians); mark my words here, this has nothing to do with Islam; it is success of a nation, coupled with Nationalism and the greater public opinion. Much as our tourism industry is viewed from a unique perspective by the tourists and journalists, we view it from a unique perspective, for reasons that are cultural, behavioral more so than Islamic and religious. Yes for religious beliefs, because we are Muslims. So what liquor is to an American Muslim, it is to a Maldivian.
    OK on the issue of fundamentalism, there is a beautiful quote which goes like this. “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder” It is true for every perception. Beauty, love, like, lust, hate, Fundamentalism you name it; it lies in the eyes of the beholder. We have had people with unshaven beards wearing caps with rosaries in their hands walking the streets of Male and the islands for many years. We had parents who would insist their children attend prayers five times a day in the neighboring mosque. We had schools that maintained a registers of students that attended mosque daily. While all these were still true, we were labeled “Liberal country” all the while we had Maldivians who consumed and died of opium overdoses. Unfortunately, our beloved Presidents uncle was one of them who died of an opium overdose many years ago.
    So you see, our society is just like any other society, we are tolerant and we manage. I wish not to speak of fundamentalism that is becoming a threat to civil societies in Europe and the Northern America’s. I urge you all not to see us from the perspectives of the situation where you live. Try to see Maldives from the Maldivian perspective.
    For your information, Maldives had been and God willing will remain a safe haven for everyone. There had been a temporary disruption in our civic code and consequently public perception of Maldives, due to political mismanagement. If you may very briefly, (1) the Old man dictator ailing and failed on his duties, and (2) The young man radical gained and draining our resources.
    You are witnessing the PR stunts of this war. It’s the war of the young radical struggle to retain the gain at any cost over the old man’s struggle for his comeback effort. There is an old Maldivian Saying that goes like this. “When the two bulls fight the grass is hurt.” Now witness that here.
    The bull the government’s putting into the world media through its cronies and other means about fundamentalism, firearms, terrorism etc. are uncalculated efforts targeted at possibly winning the vote in Maldives in 2013.
    Here are some facts. Fire arms were imported to Maldives for a coup organized by the Current Presidents Father. Fundamentalism in the Maldives was first referred to by the Current President in an interview in Britain.
    In conclusion, I’d like to tell you and the world if you may please, that the Fundamentalism was introduced to Maldives by the President Nasheed for his personal gain, thinking that the Salisbury Church will again fund his campaign in 2013 despite his failure to live up to their expectations.

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      I think we can assume from your comments Matthias that you are not a supporter of the current President and his regime?

      Please do not misunderstand the intention of this post, although the Maldives are mentioned as the example merely becuase they are the hot topic due to recent events they are really just an example. The same is also true of those Islamic fundamentalists that call for major changes, they are merely an example. Extremists exist in all societies from Islamic fundamentalits to fascism disguised as nationalism. The point being that there have little tolerance of others and it most forms of extremism are finding growing popularity throughout the world.

      This is an opinion post based on what I have read from our ‘tarnished’ media being led by the nose by your President apparently. Although this is not specific to the Maldives and my opinion based on my understanding is that the Maldives relies heavily on the luxury end of the tourism market, even small changes to the percieved ‘liberties’ afforded to your ‘Western’ tourists may impact heavily on this industry and ultimately your economy. The majority of people visiting are looking to relax in eautiful surroundings and want all the ‘trappings’ that they normally associate with luxury travel.

      It is true that unfortunately many of the stories that appear in the media are no longer totally trustworthy, too much is shared from an original source and reprinted time and time again online or in the traditional press. I still believe that the journalists that work for the more respected publications that probably propagated the original story are too savvy to be spoon fed ‘news’ without ensuring its accuracy.

      You are on the ground in the Maldives therefore have a far greater handle on the situation, than I but it may also be said that you have a greater vested interest in trying to avoid any negative publicity.

      The bottom line however is that this is not just about the Maldives it is about the rise of extreme beliefs throughout the world and the negative impact it may have on future tourism.

      You are undoubtedly an intelligent gentleman and literate too, if you wish to provide a ‘guest post’ presenting your side of the ‘extremism in tourism’ debate provided it is not overtly anit-government, provides a balanced opinion and any facts can be corroborated I will happily consider publishing it.

  3. John

    After reading the comments in this post, I feel less informed about the situation in the Maldives than before. Would it be possible for Iain and Matthias to provide reputable links as references to collaborate their statements?

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      The main story about the closing of the spas and then rescinding of the ban has been doing the rounds for over a week now John, it has been published on a number of sites Guardian, Telegraph, Reuters, CNN and MSN to name a few but will happily seek them out and email them if you wish?

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  4. karusthey

    What really happened with the spa closures was that the government upped the stakes on a demonstration organised to vent anger against premeditated acts of the government to mock people who had differing views on religion. Madives has always been a moderate and progressive Islamic state. However, there is a small minority among the populace who are extreme in theor views and subscribe to values and beliefs that the majority of Maldivians do not prescribe to. Its up to the government and civil society at large to educate and inform the general public and continue to promote moderate views on the issues of the day.

    The demonstrators who gathered on 23 Dec, numbering about 15,000 called for massage parlours operating in Male where “happy endings” were practised to be closed. they are fronts for prostitution and the demand for closure came about because the regulator of the alternative health centres prohibited such acts within premises registered specifically as alternative health centres.

    The governing party also gathered people in a demonstration the same day where there were about more than 300 people. At the gathering the president stated that maldives was for moerate islam. ironically the much larger gathering organised by the Defend Islam group did not call for any extremist actions nor did they air any extremist views. the majority gathered there were just run of the mill people who follow a moderate and progressive model of Islam, that which is practised by the overwhelming majority of the people.

    The government then first tried to close spas in the resorts owned by Villa Group, whose owner Hon Gasim IBrahim MP also took part in the Defend Islam gathering and criticised the government for its provocative stance and actions. After the Villa Group took the matter to courtm the court ruled that the action of the government was unlawful and not in compliance with the terms of the resort lease agreement.

    After the court ruling, the government then moves to ban ALL spas in ALL resorts, the deomstrators called for prositution rings being fronted as massage parlors IN THE CAPITAL MALE AND ISLANDS WHERE THE LOCAL PEOPLE LIVED to be closed, and that too after regulatory checks.

    The governmend should not have done things what they did the way they did it,

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      Thank you for bringing some more issues to light in this comment Karusthey it is useful to hear more information as from your comments it would appear that every media story claiming fundalmentalism is on the rise are mistaken. That is the first time I have also read anything which says the spa closures was merely one particular group of resorts.

      I do not believe anybody is claiming the majority of people in the Maldives are pro-extremist and Islamic fundamentalists but that in common with locations throughout the World extremism is on the rise. I reiterate that any effect on the liberties of toursits visiting the Maldives in MY opinion is likely to impact on the economy which derives much of its revenue from this source.

      I am sorry but I still need somebody to explain why there is criticism regarding direct flights from Israel, there is not any criticism of direct flights from Germany, the US, China, or anywhere else, so please explain why there is this distinction? As this was one of the subjects for the demonstration but neither Matthias or yourself have mentioned it whatsoever in your comments?

  5. Matthias Isoke

    Dear Iain,
    Thank you again for your nice comment. But your preconceived assumption about me is incorrect. Let me begin by stating for your information, I am neither a supporter of the government nor of the opposition. Your link was forwarded to me by my business associate in Paris, and here’s what he had to ask me, [Thank you for the information. I’ll study it. By the way, what to expect about the following news? so honestly, I was guided to your website by my friend asking for my comment, which is apparent from the cut and paste from my email within sq. Brackets.

    Iain, I wonder if you have ever visited the Maldives. Assuming it’s a yes, I sincerely wonder if during your visit(s) you had the opportunity to ‘walk into the Maldivian society’ and witness how ‘not fundamentalist’ the Maldivian people are. Yes Maldives is unique, in every conceivable way, especially in that all Maldivians are Muslims by law. Yet we have living among us expats of all faiths; living and working in harmony, building this country, its resources and economy.

    I cannot put a conclusion to this comment without mention or reference to the present Government and Nasheed the President, cos to do so would be an inconclusive wrap up and I would not have made the point pertaining to your so called “Fundamentalism in Maldives”. So with your permission I shall make reference.

    Nasheed’s government was brought to power by the efforts of the people that Nasheed today calls ‘fundamentalist’. When it suited him to work with them; the Adhalath Party, they were good Muslims they were God fearing citizens of Maldives, working to shelf an aging Dictator, now when he so wishes the good Muslims are fundamentalists. Funny isn’t it? I see a similitude in this behavior to that of Mr. Bin Laden’s in the sad story of CIA and bin Laden; this is where I see fundamentalist behavior, more than the judgment of an insane or an irrational person?

    For John,
    With over a million tourist arrivals to Maldives, most of them spend their holidays in set away resort islands, far from the madding Apocalypse that ‘journalist’ read and rewrite about to justify their subsistence. Many of them tourists never even know about the happening we read in blogs and online media sponsored by locals with vested interests.

    The fact is, this fundamentalist apocalypse is a fake up of Nasheed’s government to tightening their grip over the electorate to cover up and hush the scores of cases of abuse of power and corruption that is filed in the courts in Male.
    Iain, I’d be glad to write for you an article or two, but before that what do you mean by ‘Extremism in Tourism’ I have never heard of it before.

    1. Post

      Hi Matthias please excuse my incorrect assumption that you are against the President, it was based on the following comments you made earlier:

      “Unfortunately, our beloved Presidents uncle” (which appeared sarcastic, but I am sure that can be discounted now).

      “Here are some facts. Fire arms were imported to Maldives for a coup organized by the Current Presidents Father. Fundamentalism in the Maldives was first referred to by the Current President in an interview in Britain.”

      “was introduced to Maldives by the President Nasheed for his personal gain”

      None of which appear to be supportive of his regime, and your reference: “now when he so wishes the good Muslims are fundamentalists. Funny isn’t it? I see a similitude in this behavior to that of Mr. Bin Laden’s in the sad story of CIA and bin Laden; this is where I see fundamentalist behavior, more than the judgment of an insane or an irrational person?”

      But as I obviously misread the tone and meaning of your comments again I apologise.

      You assume correctly I have visted the Maldives sometime ago on a diving expedition and did as always attempt to interact with the local Maldivian population as much as possible. I found EVERYBODY I met to be friendly, charming and welcoming. The point is as I keep mentioning extremism is on the rise NOW in many locations, not just the Maldives which was the ‘topical’ example, and in my opinion has a great deal to lose if its tourism industry is adversely affected by this.

      You live in the islands and have a far greater handle on the happenings there, however I would also suggest you have a vested interest in disputing and defending your country from the media stories that “journalists write to justify their existence”.

      I put the same question to you as Karusthey why are direct flights being criticised from Israel and also add why have monuments presented to your nation been vandalised as false idols or why are women still publicly flogged for adultery, these do not appear tolerant, liberal or progressive at all?

      Additionally please explain why a Maldivian blogger Ismail Khilath Rasheed was initailly attacked receiving a broken skull then subsequently detained by the police because he organised a peaceful demonstration calling for religious tolerance? He has subsequently been released and yet there appears to be little intention to seek out his attackers and bring them to account for their vicious attack. I have seen one or two reports of this, including one John brought to my attention which was by Amnesty International. They are not journalists, but maybe also attempting to justify the existence of the organisation?

      Finally let’s not forget that in 2007 in the capital Male there was a bomb attack which wounded 12 tourists and cannot really be seen as anything but an attack on the tourism industry of the Maldives. However extremism is spreading EVERYWHERE and is a threat to the freedom of us all and not just in areas of tourism, which is the real point of the article!

  6. Matthias Isoke

    Oh and by the way, by the term “Extremism in Tourism” you mean, a situation where a tourist is greeted in the airport by men dressed in Talibanic dress code with an AK47 hanging in his back from his neck?, this is a situation that still awaits the President’s imagination. Perhaps he will conceive of this but when he is in greater difficulty politically.

    Maldives is not what Nasheed puffs to the world it is. As I said earlier, Fundamentalism is in the behavior of our President.

    I am truly lost for words to say unto those who so easily get swayed and jump to conclusions without proper verification and authentication. One can have an A4 full of links to site to have read and deduced from, but what if every other link was a crude reproduction of the same fake that was injected into one of the many in the A4, how far from the truth can you be?

    On your preconceived assumption of myself, Mr. Iain, Much as you may have reason to believe and I quote you, “You are on the ground in the Maldives therefore have a far greater handle on the situation, than I but it may also be said that you have a greater vested interest in trying to avoid any negative publicity”,

    Looking at it from the opposite perspective, I dare to but shall reframe from making a statement in the like of “Whilst you are so far away and have no clue of what the actual situation on the ground is, moved by sentiments of written articles over the internet, simply guided by the word “Islamic Fundamentalism” are trying to generate negative publicity”

    1. Post

      Matthias you said you will refrain from making the exact statement you did make, seems to contradict itself. Apologies again if i have misread the message. However yet again your vision of the possible greeting at the airport which you suggest is possibly your President’s vision and maybe conceived when he is in “greater difficultly politically” hardly reinforces the view that your comments and therefore ‘facts’ are unbiased and neutral in relation to him and his regime.

      Is/are the bombing, floggings, attack on Ismail Khilath Rasheed, vandalism of monuments and the criticism of direct flights from Israel all just figments of your President’s imagination. As I have noted that despite emphasising heavily the closing of the spas in inhabited areas, the other issues seem to have not been mentioned at all. Some might even say avoided.

      I am sorry Mathias but whilst I have read evidence that there is some increase in the ‘extreme’ values of Islam in the Maldives you have failed to provide any contradicting evidence, only your opinion. which also still appears to merely be the polar opposite of your President and World media. I already mentioned that stories often just do the rounds with various news agencies, however the sheer number of SEPARATE incidents not just closures, but the others mentioned including the “pig eating infidel swine” comment made which you discounted as a one-off lead me to believe there is some credibility in the stories. Where there is one person saying such things there are usually many more thinking it and in the context of the other ‘incidents’ cannot just be discounted as the views of one person.

      I am sure extreme views are still very much the minority but I have not seen anything yet to make me believe it is not on the rise even if only incrementally. Extremism is a global problem!

      Oh and of course I write to get people to read my article, it is all about generating interest on my site with informative articles, tips, travel related articles and yes in this case controversial commentary and opinion. I don’t just want people to passively sit and read my output I also want to generate some discussion and OPINION pieces like this do that. It is based on the facts as I have been able to ascertain through numerous sources and then a comment in response to this. The Maldives is the EXAMPLE because it is current, topical and of particular interest to travellers!

  7. Matthias Isoke

    Israel is an Extremists Fundamentalist Country. The murderous and barbaric action of the Israeli government against the Palestinian people has reciprocity to the holocaust of the WWII in MY opinion and doesn’t fall short of a “Gazacaust”. Therefore despite global political sympathies towards a wound that once was which has healed now and recovered, associating with people who commemorate such wounds and inflict them on others are less than worthy.

    I believe this is the opinion of the majority of Maldivians. It is thus, Direct flights from Israel is not acceptable, and it shall be unless Israel denounce Gazacaust and cease it’s illegal occupation of Palestine, and begin to live in and with the global community in a civilized manner, winning hearts and minds and gaining the respect of peoples and country around the world.

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      The reply to the Israel flights issue at last. Seems a bit of double standards here are you now suggesting that the majority of Israeli citizens are any different to the tolerant and liberal citizens of the Maldives that they treat any other human being different than your own population does? There is fault on both sides in the Israel/Palestine situation.

      Your description of Israel leads me to believe it is you that is blinded by the BS as your view is very polarised and quite extreme in its condemnation.

      I too would love to see a free Palestine and am not totally happy with the situation there, but I also understand that the it is not how everybody in Israel reacts.

      There are a number of other nations which have poor human rights records which your country happily accepts flights from i.e. China which is also occupying Tibet with many attrocities happening there. So again it seems like a case of double standards.

  8. Matthias Isoke

    Who is Ismail Khilath Rasheed ? If I put up a stone statue in your back garden and you don’t like it, you will vandalise it if you cannot get it remove. it’s that simple. What is this crazy bombing and flogging talk. We don’t have bombings here in Maldives, neither do we have floggings. It a whole lot of BS that is corrupting your minds.

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      You are uanware of the news story about the beaten blogger? Maybe I credited you with too much when stating you had a better handle on the situation out there.

      Sorry if you give me a gift I would not vandalise it Matthias. Yours is not anything like a viable comparison.

      You are now disputing the bombing took place in 2007 in Sultan Park, Male? The one that was a major news story with pictures on television at the time, or was this faked and propaganda? The world being deceived by journalists and media merely wishing to justify their existence?

      The floggings are condemned by the UN which is not reknowned for reacting to BS from any source without proof.

      You still failed to reply to the Israeli flights issue and sorry but it is fairly obvious which sources of information are more creditable now. You have lost any credibility in your debating now with the denial of provable facts. I am afraid it is not I that is blind to the facts or speaking from the standpoint of a corrupted mind.

      Thank you for your participation in this debate but unfortunately I believe your comments are no longer unbiased or balanced.

  9. Matthias Isoke

    Sorry again just on a note I missed out. You refer to “religious tolerance”. What exactly do you mean by that? I’ve got to ask you, have you read in some article that Maldivians do not tolerate other religions? If so would you guide me such an article, I’d sincerely appreciate that.

    FYI, we have living among us Buddhists, Christians, Hindus and Muslims I personally know. I know many who claim they are atheists. We have German men married to Maldivians and begotten children, same is true of Indians, Sri Lankan, French women to Maldivian Men, not forgetting the Japanese. What do you mean by religious tolerance?

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      I am aware there is a great degree of cultural diversity in the Maldives, it was evident when I visited and has certainly been the case for many years, long before I visited, I am sure Matthias the whole point is extremiism is on the RISE!

      This is the Amnesty International site which has the smail Khilath Rasheed information

  10. Matthias Isoke

    I am now more than convinced that you are one of the propagators and benificiaries of the Maldivian Governments propaganda machinery. You seems to be splitting hairs and swollowing cows. You make a hero of a drug adict. You talk about a country that you have not the slightest clue of, By asking the question Who is Khillath Rasheed ? I asked you if you knew this guy.
    He is a drug addict and a small time thief, that got mobbed by members of his own gang.
    You hail that kind of lunacy! I am surprised.

    Bombing, you call that 2007 incident bombing? it’s was a issue blown out of propotion by the old dictator an incident that was organised by then decident now President Nasheed’s supporters to instill the fear of loss of tourism. In every concievable way, Nasheed continues to threaten the Maldives with his “tourism weapon”. It’ll not happen.

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      Thank you Matthias you will be talking to yourself now as I can not put any credence to your comments, views or version of the ‘facts’ anybody that belittles ANY bombing where 12 people are injured by a poorly devised and improvised bomb no longer has a valid point of view. Your claims about the ‘drug addict’ are yet again made without any evidence, just a lot of name calling and unsubstantiated character assassination.

      1. Matthias Isoke

        How many people died in the railway bombing in London. Is England not becoming extremist? is it not dangerous to be in London that it is in Maldives !

  11. karusathey

    Iain, the Israel flight issue is one which the Adalat (Justice) party is using as a political tool. It has no sound basis. Maldives has diplomatic relations with Israel. Maldives has voted in Israeli interests at the UN several times. Maldives have had Israeli expats working at institutions like the Post Office. Maldivians in general are tolerant of Israel and Jews.

    Adalat is a party formed by clerics. I agree with you when you say that fundamentalism is on the rise world wide and I also agree that there are fundamentalists in the Maldives as well and I believe they are on the rise, albeit slowly and silently.

    Maldives has an open skies policy and El Al is free to fly in to Maldives and my belief is that Adalat or for that matter anyone else should not work to stop them from flying in. We have no qualms about eating fruits grown in Israel and drinking juices made there. We Maldivians are cordial with Jews who visit us. The question is why this aversion to El Al flying.

    Lets evaluate how the issue came about.

    Adalat was in the coalition that won the election in 2008. they came to power with Nasheed and had a cabinet portfolio and several other senior political posts. the islamic minister was a respected cleric who had moderate views on Islam. as time went by, it was the mishandling of politics by the Nasheed government that led to Adalat taking these strong positions on some issues. Firstly, Nasheed tried to allow the sale of liquor Holiday Inn in Male. Holiday Inn was owned by the ex husband of Maria Didi who is MP for MDP and a close confidante of Nasheed. A lot of people from within MDP and outside, including members of Adalat counseled Nasheed against allowing for liquor to be sold in inhabited islands as it was something the local populace was against. However, Nasheed, unwisely, tried to bring about the liquor sale issue by playing high politics with rules being brought in relating to religious harmony. this further inflamed public opinion and Nasheed was forced to abandon his plans to sell liquor in Male.

    The point is, Nasheed has been consistent mishandling sensitive issues and blowing things out of all proportion in the process whereas he could have used tact and diplomacy to further his agenda rather than doing things with all guns blazing.

    This attitude led to Adalat quitting the government coalition and taking up the hard stands they are taking. they feel they were not listened to.

    its till not too late for Nasheed to rectify issues and to take a more collaborative and easy stand on issues. you don’t need a 15 pound hammer to kill a mosquito, do you?

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      Thank you for your reasoned and balanced explanation of the situation from a local point of view Karusthey. It is interesting to hear the political situation in the Maldives as has been quite rightly mentioned we are outside the situation and relying on reports from the associated press and organisations such as Amnesty International.

      I can understand that the clerics of the Adalat Party maybe feeling frustrated if left out of the political process but if tourism is important to them also I believe they should be extremely wary of any negative publicity which reflects badly on the country. Often media does not explain the reasoning behind such controversy and using flights from Israel as a political ‘weapon’ could backfire and have a negative impact on the tourism industry.

      Whether you agree or not if we are not fully informed of the situation and have to rely on the news provided by the associated press agencies stories which may have a negative slant it will put off some potential visitors and therefore negatively impact on the tourism industry of the islands. Therefore it is especially important to ensure from a public relations point of view to be careful that such negativity is avoided?

      I am sure that Israelis and products from that country have long been integrated into your society let us hope that remains the case and the reasoning behind the criticism of the flights does not become a major issue or possibly one taken up further by a small minority persuading others to their cause. If it gained any momentum it is difficult to imagine it would receive a sympathetic reception from the majority of the World and the tourists you wish to attract.

      Am I correct in believing that Holiday Inn has now withdrawn form the Maldives? Surely losing big hotel chains is not ideal ffrom a tourism point of view?

      The Maldives was purely the example, of rising extremism in tourist areas but one which has a strong reliance on tourism which was important. Extreme views are indeed globally on the rise but it will possibly impact on some countries more than others.

  12. karusathey

    Iain, Holiday Inn withdrew from the capital Male City. they have a resort hotel on a separate uninhabited and dedicated island..

    For your information, the past week the government has been hounding opposition figures who criticisize the government , summoning them to Police for investigation citing libel, and harassing them. when the court demands producing them in court for a hearing, they are released and the police does not submit to the courts order to explain why they are being held. when one of the demonstrators called for the resignation of the Home Minister as he arrived in the Police HQ, he was promptly handcuffed and arrested and later released.

    its indeed a very sad situation coming from a president who came to power vowing to uphold freedom of expressions which is enshrined in the Constitution.

    I sincerely hope that the government will come to its senses and take more mature and accommodating approach to the current political tensions as you rightly to ensure the right messages are received by the international community.


    1. Post

      There appears to be two very polarised views within the country and also reports coming out from most sources. Including these:

      Maldives: Opposition Ganging Up Against President Nasheed – Analysis

      Maldives Presidency 2013: Why President Nasheed fears opposition New Maldive

      Maldives Opposition leader in Army custody

      Conflicting opnions can make it difficult to get a handle on the true situation though it is likely they are both true to varying degrees, but one thing seems clear the situation is very worrying indeed.

      I found this particular statement in which UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay calls for “the Maldives to remove the “discriminatory” constitutional provision that requires every citizen to be a Muslim.” if there is any truth in this claim whatsoever it is extremely worrying.

      It is beginning to appear that to get any true perspective it may need to come from an ‘outside’ source without any affiliation to the country, religion or political party.

  13. karusathey

    Iain. if the people of the country has voted overwhelmingly for a constitution that only provides for Islam to be the religion and with a provision that every citizen needs to be a Muslim, and if the majority of the people are against amending the constitution and the parliament is also in majority not to change the constitution what can be done?

    the perspective from an ‘outside’ source may provide closure to form an opinion.

  14. Abdulla Faiz

    Yes the we voted for Maldives to ba a Islamic country, and our constitution requires that every Maldivian (Dhivehi) person be a muslim. I dont see the sence in Mrs. Pillai calling for our constitution to be changed.

    1. Post

      I am guessing she feels that a constitution that compells its citizens to choose one religion and therefore prohibits religious freedom doesn’t appear very constitional. It does not appear she went the right way of voicing her concerns but even if there is one person that wishes to choose an alternative religion despite what the majority may want, they should be free to make their own choice.

  15. Ahmed

    Hi Iain,

    Interesting post, and still more interesting comments.

    I am also a Maldivian, and do keep in touch with the current affairs. I do not belong to any side in the political divide, but support the current Government’s policy in general. Allow me add in more lines to an already long list of comments.

    On extremism, whether we like it or not, yes it is present and increasing and continue to do if we do not accept the fact and do something about it. I did not use fundamentalism on purpose as there is an argument that anyone who follows any religion according to its fundamentals is a fundamentalist! Examples of the Sultan Park “explosion” and the more serious issue of extremists in an island taking army personnel hostage are sufficient to acknowledge that we do have more people, then we would like to acknowledge, who have extreme beliefs and are willing to use violence to be heard. Both these incidents happened before Pr.Nasheed’s era, and both were handled professionally by the army.

    I agree with Karusathey’s comment on Adhaalath Party’s alienation. My personal opinion is similar to him, Nasheed would have gained more with them on board.

    Again on the Dec 23rd incident, I believe this was an own goal by the Government.

    1 – The moment the NGO’s and Opposition Parties announced the gathering “Protecing Islam”, ruling MDP announced a gathering for the same day, on a theme “For Moderation”.

    2 – It did not go the way activists of MDP had informed the President. The gathering for MDP was conspicuously low.

    3 – The five demands were, a) Removal of “idols” in Addu b) President to condemn Ms.Pillay’s comments regarding our constitution and islamic law on flogging. c) Not to allow Israeli Airline to operate to Maldives, d) To close down more than 40 brothels operating in the country, e) Not declaring parts of inhabited island as uninhabited to issue liquor license. I can still see the live webcast of the first four as it came here

    Three of the demands could have been handled, quite easily. The “idols” (Monuments from SAARC countries) were already being vandalized, and ironically the Pakistani one (which brought in the whole saga, had already been stolen.). There was no harm in removing them as apparently there was a considerable opposition to it.

    The “happy ending” massage parlours are a fact and investigative journalist had been there and written about it in one of the daily papers. I don’t see an issue in closing places which were violating their operating licenses.

    The liquor licensing process is Maldives is to be issued to hotels operating in uninhabited islands and yachts registered with Tourism Ministry. While there is a merit in trying to take a short cut to woo investors for the various hotel projects in inhabited islands, is it worth the political fall out, when there is a reasonable opposition to it?

    If the first three were handled professionally the Government could have negotiated through the other two. While there is a considerable part of the population who have negative views of Israel (Thanks in part to Israel’s reputation created by some media), there are as much who believe that the current crisis is not a religious issue anymore. I feel that in one the comments above that we have diplomatic relations may be wrong. However Maldives has had some sort of relations with Israel even during the previous Government, as we have had goods imported from Israel for quite a long time. The reason for keeping the relations inconspicuous during the previous regime may be more for financial reasons than political or religious.

    Hope I was able to offer some additional information. The local news portal is pretty balanced, but as all news media will have their interests covered.

  16. Post

    Hi Abdulla thank you for commenting, unfortunately most of us will not be able to read your link therefore I need to delete the comments as I am unsure of the content. It does seem however that there are two very polarised views here the governments and those that oppose them.

  17. Stefan

    We also experienced this from a gay point of view, which as you are probably aware, gay rights doesn’t really do well in the Maldives…not expecting a Male Pride anytime soon.

    We were quite worried going there as a gay couple beforehand, especially reading about a gay blogger being slashed. But overall we found it relaxed as long as we were discreet.

    It’s a shame though for such a beautiful country to have these negative extremes, particularly for gays and women.

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