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September 21, 2012

Growing Islamisation could lead to ban on spas, alcohol in 'tourism hub' Maldives

     London: The growing influence of Islamic hardliners can have an adverse impact on the future of tourism in the Maldives, the country's former president Mohamed Nasheed has said. Nasheed, Maldives' first democratically elected leader, who was ousted in a 'coup' on February 7, said Islamisation could even lead to the banning of spas, same-sex beaches and alcohol from holiday resorts in the Maldives. "I think that is the direction we are going. They are talking about alcohol-free resorts, about getting non-drinking tourists to come in from Iran ," Nasheed said in an interview with Telegraph Travel. "I can easily imagine holidaymakers being prosecuted for kissing in public, as in some Muslim countries," he added. Nasheed said that 'if the country is being radicalised every day, then the staff in the resorts, and their families, are being radicalised also.' "That must have some impact on the resorts in the medium and long term," he added. Maldives, a popular destination for honeymooners, is generally considered to be more tolerant than other Muslim countries, but recent evidence appears to suggest otherwise, the paper said. Maldives' Islamic Affairs ministry recently tried to impose a ban on dancing in public between men and women. But the government rejected the ban, and pledged that the honeymoon hotspot would remain a beacon of tolerance.
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