“When the medieval Arab traveler Ibn Battuta gazed upon the Maldives, an Indian Ocean archipelago of more than a thousand coral atolls and turquoise-blue lagoons, he thought it ‘one of the wonders of the world.’ ” writes Ishaan Tharoor for the Washington Post.
“He didn’t need much persuading to halt his voyage, and assumed the role of ‘qadi‘ — or chief religious judge — for the entire archipelago, deliberating on matters of state while enjoying the delights of the islands’ beaches and, as local lore goes, its women.
Ever since then, travelers and honeymooners have flocked to the Maldives for their own bit of paradise. The country’s myriad scattered luxury resorts now bring in hundreds of thousands of tourists every year — in 2012, the Maldives counted over a million visitors, nearly three times the country’s existing population.
But there’s trouble in paradise, also. This past weekend, some 300 people in the capital city Male — a tiny, crowded concrete island in the sea — marched down its main thoroughfare waving the black flags of the Islamic State. They chanted slogans against democracy and held banners that read “Shariah is the only solution,” among others. They ended their protest with a prayer offering support to mujahideen waging jihad around the world.”