Government lifts ban on spas in Maldives

Government lifts ban on spas in MaldivesPA

The Government in the Maldives has lifted a ban on its luxury spas just days after they were closed down following claims they promote 'anti-Islamic' behaviour.

During a press conference at the country's first resort, Kurumba Maldives, the President said the government has requested the Supreme Court to advise whether spas are legal under the Maldives constitution.

He stated that he was confident all the institutions of state will realise the importance of placing national development first and will not act in a way that would damage the tourism industry.

The President also reasserted his view that the vast majority of Maldivians reject religious extremism and want to continue the moderate form of Islam the Maldives has followed for the past 800 years.

The government's actions over the past few days follow an opposition rally in Male' on 23 December aimed at "defending Islam". During that rally, all the major opposition parties in the country attacked the government's religious credentials; many speakers went further, calling for the creation of an 'Islamic state' with the strict imposition of Sharia.

Since the government's ban on spas, the opposition parties - most of which are headed or heavily influenced by resort owners - quickly changed their positions and stated they do not support a ban on spas nor wish to damage the tourism industry.

"We wanted to impress upon everyone where the opposition's demands were ultimately going to end," the President explained on Wednesday, adding that the government's ultimatum "woke the nation from its slumber and sparked a healthy national debate about the future direction of the country."

He added: "The extremist demonstration on 23 December attracted a sizeable crowd. But their radical demands awoke the silent majority who categorically reject extremism."

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