Trouble in paradise: The darker side of the Maldives
Public lashings. Religious extremists seizing
power. A gay blogger with his throat slashed. Few of the million annual
visitors to the Maldives will recognise the hellish side of these
Recent weeks have put a spotlight on Islamic fundamentalism in the Maldives after a 15-year-old girl who had been repeatedly raped by her stepfather was sentenced to 100 lashes for "fornication". A petition by the global advocacy group Avaaz has been signed by more than two million people demanding a tourist boycott until the flogging sentence is annulled.
In a rare interview at his home this week, President Mohammed Waheed told The Independent that he strongly opposes the court ruling. "This case should not have come to the courts at all. We see this girl as a victim," he said, adding that he has set up a committee to "understand what went wrong".
But that sits awkwardly with his recent decision to enter into a coalition with the religious Adhaalath party with elections to be held in September.