Date: 30/09/2020
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Maldives police remove 'anti-Islamic idols' in luxury resort raid

From Al Jazeera

Male, Maldives - Guests on a five-star honeymoon resort in the Maldives caught a rare glimpse of the decades-long political and religious tensions rocking this island nation when policemen - armed with axes, concrete saws and ropes - stormed the Fairmont Maldives to destroy model human figures that had been deemed un-Islamic.

The unprecedented raid on Friday came as President Abdulla Yameen railed against what he said was a plot by the "Western-backed opposition" to undermine Islam in the Maldives ahead of a highly charged election on Sunday.

Yameen, who is seeking re-election after five years of rule marred by allegations of human rights abuses and corruption, had ordered the removal of the nearly 30 statues from the Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi in July, citing "significant public sentiment against" them. That was after several clerics warned against "the sin of worshipping idols" when the Fairmont hotel opened the art gallery, called a coralarium, to the public.

The Candian hotelier called it the world's first semi-submerged gallery, and Jason deCaires Taylor, the British-Guyanese artist behind the installations, said his aim was "to raise awareness for the protection" of Maldives' coral reefs, which are under threat from warming oceans associated with climate change.

On Thursday, police said the civil court had issued a ruling ordering the resort to take down the sculptures, saying the installation "undermines Islamic faith, peace and order" in the country. The judgment ordered the police and the army to remove the human models if the resort failed to do so within five hours ...

A video posted on Twitter by the state-owned Public Service Media showed policemen cheering as one statue was pulled off its plinth into the lagoon. The police, also in a post on Twitter, said all "human model sculptures" in the coralarium were cleared out by 5:45pm on Friday evening.

Photographs of the rather attractive sculptures, and the somewhat less appealing Islamic rozzers from here. 

Shortly after the raid, Jamiyyath Salaf, a religious organisation that lobbies for the death penalty and strict Islamic law, declared its support for the president. 

 


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