apologises to couple over ‘hate’ wedding ceremony
COLOMBO (AFP) – The Maldivian Government has
apologised to a European couple abused as “swine”
and “infidels” during what was supposed to be a
romantic renewal of wedding vows in the Indian Ocean
The Maldivian ambassador in Geneva conveyed to the
couple the government’s “profound and heartfelt
apologies,” the government said.
“Ambassador Iruthisham Adam from the Maldives
embassy in Geneva personally telephoned the couple,
who asked to remain anonymous, on Friday to extend
the government’s profound and heartfelt apologies,”
a statement said.
A video of the ceremony said to have taken place
on October 11, during which the hapless couple were
taunted and subjected to insulting and
religious-tinged abuse, was posted on YouTube two
weeks later. The video has sparked fears for the
country’s tourism-dependent economy.
The Vilu Reef hotel initially identified the victims
as Swiss, but a senior tourism source in the
Maldives told AFP they were French. Maldivian
authorities declined to confirm their nationality.
However, Maldivian Foreign Minister Ahmed Shaheed
said soon after the video was posted on YouTube that
he was expressing his “intense regret” to European
The Foreign Ministry will also be writing to its
counterparts in Europe “to offer our intense
regret,” Shaheed said in a statement.
“I informed the couple the entire country is
deeply shocked and saddened by what has happened,”
the president’s office quoted the Maldivian
ambassador in Geneva as saying.
“The Maldives is renowned for its warm hospitality
and this incident has brought great shame upon our
tourism industry and our country.”
Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed also said he
was sorry over the incident and called for new
measures to regulate wedding ceremonies in the
upmarket tourist destination.
Maldivian police have arrested the hotel employee
who conducted the ceremony and used profanities
throughout the renewal of wedding vows by the
couple, who paid USD 1,300 for the event.
“We have started investigations and are treating
this as a very serious matter,” police spokesman
Ahmed Shiyam told AFP by telephone from the capital
He said the two men were taken before a
magistrate who ordered them detained for five days.
Both are being held at a Male police station, he
British comic Russell Brand and US pop star Katy
Perry are the latest celebrities to head to the
Indian Ocean nation for a honeymoon after tying the
knot in India last weekend.
“All tourist hotels without exception will be
required to follow the new guidelines which will be
issued shortly,” the president’s office said.
The Vilu Reef hotel said it was “unforgivable”
that a staff member had read out the sexual and
religious slurs in the Dhivehi language, and
apologised for his conduct.
“You are swine,” the couple was told. “The children
that you bear from this marriage will all be bastard
“Your marriage is not a valid one. You are not the
kind of people who can have a valid marriage. One of
you is an infidel. The other, too, is an infidel
and, we have reason to believe, an atheist.”
The wife, wearing a white dress and carrying a
bouquet, and her husband smile shyly through the
ceremony. In front of a table decorated with incense
sticks, the English-speaking couple bows their heads
in prayer through the torrent of accusations, curses
The Islamic Republic of the Maldives, a nation of
palm-fringed islands scattered in the Indian Ocean,
is one of the world’s most exclusive honeymoon
destinations and its economy relies heavily on