The President’s Office has removed “socially unacceptable” pictures taken at Tuesday’s Maldives Film Awards from its website.
Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali told Minivan News the pictures had been removed on Wednesday evening following local media and social media criticism of “pictures against social norms.”
President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and Defense Minister Ahmed Nazim attended the event held at the Olympus Theater in Malé. The ceremony was broadcast live on state broadcaster Television Maldives (TVM).
“We felt these pictures should not be on the President’s Office website. They are against social norms,” Muaz said.
Muaz refused to provide further details on which pictures were removed. But Minivan News understands they were of female film stars in revealing clothes.
Some commentators criticized the photos on religious grounds, while others pointed to the administration’s “hypocritical” treatment of female detainees arrested from a music festival on Anbaraa Island and accused of wearing revealing clothing on April 18.
The women were wrapped in sarongs when they were presented at the Criminal Court for remand hearings.
Comparing the film awards and Anbaraa music festival, one Facebook commenter said: “When the girls wore shorts and danced at Anbaraa it became a problem. But its OK when adult women wear revealing clothes and when some dance infront of political leaders. Raid Olympus just as they raided Anbaraa. This is why I say how they do things do not make sense.”
One commenter on Channel News Maldives said they were saddened by President Yameen’s presence at the event, while another said: “Those who raised their voices and cried in the name of religion and nation are now speechless, their voices silenced, mute.”
Facebook user, Shifa Aishath, called for Home Minister Umar Naseer’s resignation: “Girls wearing shorts needed sarongs to cover them. What about the so-called celebrities? End discrimination! Umar resign!”
Political Analyst Azra Naseem said the treatment of the young people on Anbaraa Island “is a supreme example of the hypocrisy that defines 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,” she said in a comment piece.
Referring to the Criminal Court’s stalling of a court case against MP Ahmed ‘Sun Travel’ Shiyam and state failure to investigate Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed’s alleged appearance in a series of sex tapes, Azra said: “And the hypocrisy of those meting out such punishment, while 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.”
In May 2013, the police detained a 16 year old girl in Malé for “dressing inappropriately.”