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Maldives bans spas after ‘prostitution’ protests
From Capital FM News Kenya
The Maldives has ordered hundreds of luxury hotels to close their spas after protests by an Islamist party which claimed they were a front for prostitution, an official told AFP Friday. The tourism ministry instructed all resort hotels across the nation’s 1,192 tiny coral islands to shut their spas and health centres offering beauty treatments and massage with immediate effect.
The opposition Adhaalath party, a conservative religious movement whose website features an article criticising “lustful music,” staged protests in the capital Male last week accusing spas of being used as brothels. “An Islamic party has been agitating against spas hoping to embarrass the government,” a senior government figure told AFP by telephone, confirming Thursday’s ministry order but asking not to be named.
Despite the Islamic republic’s reputation as a laid-back holiday paradise, burnished by frequent international marketing campaigns, there is growing concern about the influence of a minority of religious fundamentalists. There have been anti-semitic protests recently about the transport ministry’s decision to allow direct flights from Israel, while a restaurant that hung up Christmas decorations last year was also targeted. In 2010, a marriage celebrant was filmed abusing a Western couple as “swine” and “infidels” in a religious-tinged hate speech during a ceremony conducted in the local Dhivehi language. Most recently, UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay has sought to highlight the plight of Maldivian women who can be publicly flogged for having extra-marital sex.
Industry sources said they expected the government to revoke the decision on spas considering the huge revenue earned from the business. . . The government move to shut spas will directly affect an opposition leader, Gasim Ibrahim, head of the Jumhoory Party, who owns five, the independent Minivan news website reported.