As political unrest swept through the Muslim nations of North Africa, even the remote island nation of the Maldives was caught up in its own Arab Spring in the form of political protest and street clashes, writes author and documentary filmmaker Jon Bowermaster for Take Part.
“One major difference: efforts in the Maldives were focused on pushing out a young, democratically elected president and replacing him with an aging despot.
“As many as 5,000 protestors have been shouting not about green issues, but about homegrown concerns, including a sour economy and increases in crime and inflation. They have also complained about Nasheed’s alleged ‘westernization’ of the traditional Islamic culture. One report has his popularity rating at just 18 percent. The military has dispersed youthful crowds with high-pressure hoses and batons.
“Waiting in the wings? None other than Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, 74, whose 30-year dictatorship ended in 2008 with Nasheed’s election. Nasheed has no love lost for the former president, who still lives in the Maldives. A former journalist, activist and political prisoner, Nasheed was tortured while in prison during Gayoom’s presidency.”