Outgoing Maldives President Yameen Has 30 'Un-Islamic' Sea Sculptures Demolished

| September 26 , 2018 , 15:00 IST

Outgoing Maldives President Abdulla Yameen, in one of his last acts while in office, had a semi-submerged sculpture gallery conceived by British artist Jason deCaires Taylor destroyed on the grounds that it was “un-Islamic”, media reported on Tuesday.

According to reports, the Coralarium gallery built off the coast of the Sirru Fen Fushi resort in Maldives, was demolished by the Maldives police after a court had given the resort a deadline to remove the 'idols' or police would remove them. Around 30 sculptures of the human form had been ordered to be removed.

The British artist behind the gallery, Jason deCaires Taylor expressed his shock in a statement.

“I was extremely shocked and heartbroken to learn that my sculptures have been destroyed by the Maldivian Authorities at the Coralarium, despite continued consultations and dialogue," said Taylor.

“The Coralarium was conceived to connect humans to the environment and a nurturing space for marine life to thrive. Nothing else! The Maldives is still beautiful, with a warm and friendly population but it was a sad day for art and sad day for the environment,” he added.

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Maldives Tourism Ministry said that the Coralarium was built in contravention of the permission given to the resort and the court ruling said that it posed a threat to “Islamic unity and the peace and interests of the Maldivian state” and that its removal was necessary to “protect the five tenets of Islamic shariah”.

The Maldives presidential election results released on September 24 showed Opposition leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) winning with 58.3 percent of the votes, beating incumbent President Abdulla Yameen, who is considered to be more pro-China.

Outgoing President Abdulla Yameen became infamous after he declared a State of Emergency in the island nation on February 5, amidst a political and constitutional crisis, and lifted it after 45 days on March 22. By imposing the State of Emergency, the government was able to annul a February 1 ruling of its Supreme Court that quashed convictions of 9 Opposition leaders and ordered the government to free them.