Government considering nation-wide ban of pork and alcohol

Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair has said that the government has decided to shut down all the massage parlors in the Maldives and is considering banning the trade of alcohol and pork throughout the Maldives in response to demands made by protestors on December 23.

‘’The government has decided to take urgent measurements to fulfill the demands,’’ Zuhair said. “There are five demands made after raising voice in the name of protecting Islam.’’

Zuhair said one of the demands was to close massage parlors and spas, as there have been accusations that prostitution is conducted widely in these locales.

‘’Therefore the government has decided to close every massage parlor and spa in the Maldives,’’ he said. ‘’Those places are not operated with a special permission from the government, but the government has now begun inspecting those places.’’

Addressing the demand to disallow Israeli flights to land in the Maldives, he said the government has tried to commence operations of any flight only for the purpose of tourism, for the benefit of the citizens and for the benefit of businessman in the tourism sector.

‘’When tourists want to come they will first book the resort before booking the airline and if the resorts cancel their bookings they will not come to the Maldives and the airline will stop operations because it cannot run the business if there won’t be any passenger to travel,’’ he said adding that the situation was in the hands of tourism businessman.

Referring to the demand made to remove all the SAARC monuments placed in Addu, he said under the decentralization plan, the decision rests with the Addu City Council.

‘’The government will not obstruct any decision made by the council to remove those monuments.’’

‘’Next is [UN High Commissioner for Human Rights] Navi Pillay’s remarks made in parliament, according to the President during the meeting she held with the President she did not mention anything that a Muslim would resist,’’ Zuhair said. ‘’The parliament is the one that has said anything in response to comments made by her in parliament, because the meeting with parliament was not organized by the government.’’

Trade of alcohol, Zuhair said, is not a business conducted by the government. He added that the government receives a relatively large amount of money through this trade from Goods and Services Tax (GST).

‘’The businessman running the trade of alcohol receives a huge amount of profit through this business as well,’’ he said. ‘’The government is now considering banning trade of alcohol and pork throughout the Maldives.’’

Only 200 people live in some less populous islands, but 400-500 citizens live in the tourist resorts, he pointed out.

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Ahmed Mahlouf today said no matter what Zuhair said the government will not have the courage to ban the trade of alcohol in the resorts.

‘’It is all lies made by the government to mislead the citizens,’’ Mahlouf said.