Comment: Maldives – The Hypocrites’ paradise

This article first appeared on Dhivehi Sitee. Republished with permission.

More than half of the Maldivian population is under the age of 25 and, with over a third of the population aged between 18-35, the Maldives has one of the most youthful populations in the world. This weekend around 200 of them assembled on the desert island of Anbaraa for an overnight music festival.

All elements that any reasonable person expects at a modern event of the sort were present—great DJs, young people up for a good time and, unsurprisingly, party drugs. On Friday night, when most revelers were at the peak of their enjoyment, a Maldives Police Service (MPS) team in riot gear raided the island. Apparently they were in possession of an arrest warrant, issued by one of many farcical courts that comprise the so-called judiciary.

The MPS asked no one’s permission to get on the island, respected no laws, followed no due procedure. Police statements have made it clear they were aware of the plans for the music festival, and also that it would take the form of a rave. They made no move to stop it from going ahead. When they raided the island on Friday night, they were fully aware of what they would find — a bunch of young people in a highly vulnerable state — and proceeded to assert their supremacy on them as aggressively as possible.

The MPS could not have acted more triumphantly if they had managed to bust the world’s biggest drug cartel. According to eye-witness accounts, they threw smoke grenades onto the unsuspecting revelers, barged into their tents without permission, searched their personal possessions without their knowledge, and handcuffed everyone deemed ‘guilty’ before holding them in custody for 14 hours without the right to counsel.

Once they had been humiliated, and by some accounts several beaten up in custody, it was time to turn the whole affair into a media circus. Pictures of various partygoers were splashed across computer and television ‘news’ screens as if they were members of a newly busted paedophile gang deserving the most forceful of today’s naming and shaming techniques.

The worst of the humiliation was reserved for the women, as can be expected of the misogynistic society the Maldives has become today. First came the reports across the entire media spectrum—from the mainstream to the most obscure—that several of the women had been found ‘naked’, ‘nude’, ‘everything bared’, etc. Pictures of laughing policewomen in headscarves marching the young female partygoers in handcuffs and sarongs appeared on all print and online newspapers.

As it turned out, all reports the women were naked were total lies, engineered to belittle and humiliate ‘the weaker sex’ as much as possible. The women were made to wear sarongs to court — not to cover their nudity, but to cover up the lie that none of them were naked. Wearing shorts, apparently, is now tantamount to being naked in the tropical island ‘paradise’.

The treatment of these young people is a supreme example of the hypocrisy that defines modern Maldives. It is one of the worst kept secrets of Maldivian politics that most of the Maldivian cabinet, and a substantial number of parliamentarians in the Majlis all drink alcohol and/or take recreational drugs. Several government Ministers not only drink but also facilitate parties and raves for young people they know. On the more sleazy side of things, several do so with the goal of getting sexual favours from young people in exchange for the illegal substances provided.

Quite apart from the disgusting hypocrisy of those in power, and separate from the widespread heroin addiction that has afflicted an entire generation of Maldivian youth since the 1990s, it is also a fact that social drinking and indulging in recreational drugs are common among young Maldivians, especially in the capital Malé. In recent years the use of party drugs such as ecstasy, and even more recently LSD too, have increased as it has in most cities across the world.

Meanwhile, in a country where alcohol is only meant to be available to tourists who holiday in the exclusive resort islands, it is commonplace for copious amounts of alcohol to be sold and bought in and around Malé every weekend. Government officials—and police—are fully aware of this. Many, in fact, have a share in the profits, which are invariably huge. Young people who want a drink are forced to pool their resources and shell out as much as MVR2000 approximately  (US$130) for a bottle of alcohol, regardless of its make, size or contents. Where else do the bottles come from except tourism industry tycoons with a license to import them?

Today several of these tycoons are also running the government and the country. To pretend they are unaware of how much their profits are pumped up from selling alcohol to young Maldivians is a sham that any thinking person can see right through. Yet they keep up the façade so that a) they can keep making profits, and b) continue claiming that such things do not happen in a ‘100 percent Muslim country’ like the Maldives.

Fact of the matter is, Muslim or not, drinking alcohol and taking recreational drugs are as normal among a large section of the Maldivian population as it is in any other 21st century society in the world.  To believe that what happens in the rest of the globalised world does not happen in the Maldives is the height of idiocy. Being such a small country with deliberately weakened cultural and historical roots has made us more, rather than less, vulnerable to global influences than most other countries. Nowhere is this more evident than in the number of Maldivian youth who have found themselves bending to the radical Islamist winds that have swept across the globe since the beginning of the century.

If we are to be honest, we have to admit that the big black burugas that so many Maldivian women have come to wear in the past decade have as little affinity with our culture and religious practises as the hot pants the women at the rave were wearing – yet the former is not just embraced but almost forced upon everyone as ‘the right thing’ while the other is criticised as ‘alien’ and even criminal.

Yes, the use of drugs are against the law. But since man began to live in societies, there has been no place on earth where youth have not bent the law for their fun and enjoyment. Their infringements—if they cause no harm to society as a whole—need to be dealt with concern and understanding, not handcuffs, brutality, and long sentences. Drug laws are meant to punish traffickers and dealers and to stop dangerous substances from becoming a menace to users and society.

Young people at a rave on a desert island, whether tripping or not, poses no threat to society whatsoever. To treat the Anbaraa revelers as criminals, to set out to publicly shame them, and to punish them with imprisonment demonstrate nothing but intolerance and ignorance. And the hypocrisy of those meting out such punishmentwhile happily indulging in worse behaviour themselves, boggles the mind perhaps even more than some of the substances said to have been available at Anbaraa could have.

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19 thoughts on “Comment: Maldives – The Hypocrites’ paradise”

  1. Governments/politicians/religious leaders say, "do as we say, not as we do". All major religions and political ideologies are the same. The people in charge do what they want (hookers and booze seem to be popular choices)and make all the money. The rules are for the sheep to follow. Now put your head down and get back to work, prayer time, etc. Someone has to pay for your owners' lifestyle and it won't be them.

  2. Oh goody. I agree that hypocrisy is at work here...But just because most things happen in this country as a result of power struggle between political powers that be, lets just allow all the youth to waste away their lives getting high & hooking up in the name of "HARMLESS FUN".

    I know this comment will probably not be published but i wanted to speak my mind.

  3. Absolutely true.

    Think deep about the situation here, in the world, and ask why? Think again and ask why?

    Why would He send a messenger, with a message, that is so obfuscated, that even at ground zero, the rules can only be followed/maintained at gunpoint. Metaphorically.

    Is He so incompetent in the messages, yet so absolutely perfect in the creations? Ponder.

    And why are the opposition(s) enjoying life way better, that the poor sods following the perfect religion.

    Then ask yourself, could any of it be true? Instead of being the perfect religion, could it be the perfect hoax?

  4. When we were you we had discotheque in Male Dancing party were common its Gayoon who ban the night going crowed for better future.

    Nothing happen good every thing went worst

  5. "taking recreational drugs are as normal among a large section of the Maldivian population" the f_c_! the author of this are the hypocrites. can't you understand that using drugs is prohibited by law in this country & drinking booze for maldivian is prohibited. police arrest only the positive in drugs. why can't you all be happy that this is a big achievement by the police.

  6. Thank You Azra, Why cant a man live a life here? Sadly we live in such a sad state 🙁

  7. Innocent untill proven guilty in the eyes of the law, but ofcourse that not how things happen in Maldives.
    But just this time it did. Sure hypocrisy is event in all walks in Maldives.

  8. Maldives is not a paradise for ordinary Maldivians.

    It is a paradise for the tourists.

    It is also a paradise for the rich and powerful Maldivians.

    It is perhaps a paradise for the ignorant and stupid amongst us too.

    It is certainly not a paradise for you and for me.

  9. To sustain an autocratic and dictatorship rule, the ruler has to appear benevolent from time to time.

    Take this incident for e.g. The first statement president made was he is the one has to shoulder the blame. Second statement was he cannot bare to see the youth and their families cry like this. And my prediction is, very soon the president will engineer a way for them to be released from the crony court that he and his family controls.

    Thus magically forgiving and pardoning the youth, much like a sultan would do in a sultanate.

    What we are buying into now is an absolute rule takes place where even forgiveness in court is given by a president even on small drug related offenses.

    Families will no doubt take this deal as they are being hijacked by police and courts, but will forever have to remain sympathetic and thankful to the ruler.

    It is a nothing but a cleverly orchestrated political maneavor that I am not only disgusted but at the same time in admiration of how smart these people are in shattering the only traces of a democratic state of mind there in governing this country.

  10. everyone in maldives , every maldivian comes from islamic blood. many young maldivians have forgotten the islamic ways and beauty, peace and harmony of the islamic life style and they have started to become lost is saitanic haram ways of life advertised in modern media by atheists. just because young ppl go partying clubbing and drinking in other countries does not mean it is ok or aceptable in islamic culture/way of life , what is haram is haram and will always be haram no matter what AGE(zamaan) it is .wethere it is a parliment member , judge or ordinary citizen a sin is a sin ad should be punished equally if this does not happen that IS NOT AN EXCUSE for the others to go and keep on doing HARAM acts. we are not FREE we are slaves of GOD sent to earth to worship god, FREEDOM is an illusion, an illusion usd to guid humanity into the hands of shaitaan

  11. Our children should not be allowed to behave in that way. However the party on Anbaraa was not the most pressing issue at hand that the police and the media had to act so ridiculously.

    Coming to the Anbaraa party that inevitably HAS become the most pressing issue, and has destroyed the lives of several dozens of youth in this country, where is the answer to the bigger question: WHO SUPPLIED THE DRUGS, LSD, ALCOHOL to be sold to the youth????

  12. @muhimeh noon
    "what is haram is haram and will always be haram no matter what AGE(zamaan) it is"

    Profiting from the sale of pork and alcohol is haram, isn't it? Making money from infidels who wear bikinis and fornicate at resorts without being married is haram, isn't it?

    Maldives makes most of its money from tourism and selling alcohol at resorts. How do you get to pick and choose? You tell your children don't do this, don't do that... but you're government and most Maldivians are doing it anyway. Maybe if the older generations and government set a better example instead of being lying, cheating, scamming con artists, you're children might actually believe in your "Islamic" values.

  13. Why label the young when we let big time politicians get away with everything? Wonder if MPS would have the guts to barge into such a party where politicians are having a good time. Or is that allowed for politicians to party with drugs, alcohol and naked women, in Islam and in our country? Hypocritical is right.

  14. The defamation of the youth was unacceptable. All corrupt and defunct governments will try and control its citizens through such coercion and humiliation. If the police had knowledge that something lawless was about to happen, why did they wait till the crime was done to flex their muscles and arrest the 'wrongdoers'? Isn't it their responsibility to reduce crimes, not to increase arrests. It is very twisted, and anyone who thinks of this as being a victory for the police is just deranged. Substance abuse is a major problem in almost every societies since the beginning. But this is not the right way to go about dealing with the matter. It is hypocrisy indeed and this is a very well written informative commentary on the issue.

  15. I echo what has been said in most of the comments.

    Even about 1 or 3 Decades ago, Big Shots used to take youngsters to Colombo for Fun...And there were rumors rife about who was supplying Drugs...And there were addicts occupying Senior Positions

    So the new Generation is just following the footsteps of the Older Generation...

  16. Institutionalised hypocrisy - this article spells it out perfectly. Its been going on for a long time, but now its just worse, thanks to the the deliberate policy of eroding our indigenous culture and traditions, a process that started in the late '70's. We are facing the consequences of those actions. Goodness knows what consequences later generations will face.


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