Monster to Savior
The Maldives has faced recent internal instability but this has had little effect on its tourism industry. What is the reason behind this rare turmoil?
Maldivians never forget to say “Al’hamd-o-lil’lah (Thanks God) you saved our lives” in reverence while passing by the mausoleum of the legendary Muslim traveler, Ibn-e-battuta, in capital Male. Legend says that the Arab tourist saved the inhabitants of the Maldives from a sea monster in the 2th century that frequently used to claim a virgin’s life.
Since then the rulers of the Maldives chose to embrace Islam, putting a lid on practice of any other religion in the former Buddhist nation, as a permanent solution to protecting their daughters from the sea monster. Influence of the legend very much reflects the faith factor in the constitution of the Maldives, which shows little or no room for any other faith in the garland of 1,192 coral-ringed islands in the Indian Ocean.
At least four articles of the constitution of the Maldives (Articles 2, 9, 10 and 19) directly talk about strict adherence to Islam. Its inflexibility regarding other religions has earned the nation the highest rank in the list of governments that restrict religious freedom. This inflexibility directly antagonizes the Maldives with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
A mob attack on the National Museum in Male and the destruction of priceless Buddhist statues on February 7, the day President Mohammed Nasheed was forced to resign before the media, amid protests of the opposition and Islamist parties, have led some analysts to believe that the change was influenced by the faith-factor, rather than underlying political motives and economic factors. Nasheed is succeeded by his vice president, Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik, famously known as Baaghee Waheed, as the new president of the Maldives with the support of a dozen political parties.
Despite the destruction of a Buddhist monument by a mob in 2011,