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In the Maldives, police destroyed underwater sculptures

An unusual act of vandalism occurred at the 5-star Fairmont Hotel in the Maldives. Policemen armed with axes, concrete saws and ropes entered the premises of the luxury honeymoon resort and destroyed the sculptures of the famous English artist and ecologist Jason DeCaires. All because they were deemed incompatible with Islam and… the election campaign.
Published: October 9, 2018 - 15:55
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 17:19
In the Maldives, police destroyed underwater sculptures

An unusual act of vandalism occurred at the 5-star Fairmont Hotel in the Maldives. Policemen armed with axes, concrete saws and ropes entered the premises of the luxury honeymoon resort and destroyed the sculptures of the famous English artist and ecologist Jason DeCaires. All because they were deemed incompatible with Islam and… the election campaign.

The police raid and destruction of the sculptures in front of visitors is the aftermath of religious and political tensions that have been building up for decades in the island country. President Abdulla Yameen, who is seeking re-election, has justified the actions of the authorities and police by claiming that the sculptures were part of an effort by the opposition, supported by foreign backers, to undermine and weaken Islam in the Maldives and introduce a Western value system.

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The Coralarium, which according to DeCaires was intended to connect people with the environment and to provide a place to support the development of the local ecosystem, was the first of its kind in the world. It consisted of a large steel frame and 30 sculptures, positioned under and above the water on the steel frame. Together they created a magnificent habitat for underwater life.

Despite consulting with the government side during the design and creation of the building, on Friday 21 September, a court ordered the removal of sculptures deemed anti-Islamic, and local police immediately carried out the order.

The whole thing was seen as directly linked to the presidential elections scheduled for Sunday 23 September and perfectly in line with the line taken by the incumbent President Abdulla Yameen.

Today, when the post-election dust has settled, we know that, to everyone’s surprise, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih was elected the new president with 58% of the vote. As we can see, the citizens of the Maldives have not turned out to be religious fanatics who would be frightened by the spectre of the Western world personified by an underwater construction.

Source: aljazeera.com, wikipedia.org

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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