Islamic protesters force all spas to close in the Maldives
Published 31/12/2011 | 05:00
THE Maldives ordered hundreds of its luxury resorts to close their spas after a protest demanding a halt to "anti-Islamic" activities, including prostitution.
An official from the president's office said the tourism ministry notified the resorts this but would not confirm whether any spas have been closed.
The Indian Ocean archipelago with 1,192 tiny coral islands is known for its luxury resorts.
Thousands at last week's protest called on the government to halt what they called "anti-Islamic" activities. Sunni Islam is the official religion in the Maldives and practising any other faith is forbidden.
Last week's protest was called by the opposition Adhaalat, or Justice, Party and several other groups that accuse President Mohammed Nasheed's government of compromising principles of Islam.
The protesters also want authorities to stop the sale of alcohol in the islands, shut down brothels operating in the guise of massage parlours and demolish monuments gifted by other countries because they see them as idols. They also want to halt a plan to allow direct flights to Israel.
Though the country does not allow stoning or executions, it is under scrutiny for its absence of religious freedom and for punishments such as public flogging.
And an angry protest last month followed a call by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay for the Maldives to end floggings of women being punished for adultery.