Once Moderate, the Islamic Maldives Turning Radical Putting Tourists in Danger

AP/ Gemunu Amarasinghe

After the disappearance of one journalist and the murder of a second, government officials of the once moderate Islamic Maldives island chain are worried that radical Islam is growing in strength, putting at risk the lives of millions of western tourists who go there to soak up the tropical paradise.

The murder of blogger Yameen Rasheed, who was stabbed by multiple assailants on April 23, deepened the worry of the central government in the Maldives’ capital of Malé. Rasheed had been tracking the rise of radical Islam in the Maldives and was likely killed for putting a spotlight on the radicalism he found.

Rasheed is the second journalist murdered for exposing the rise of radical Islam in the Maldives. Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla, a reporter from the Maldives Independent, was abducted in August of 2014. He has never been seen again and is presumed murdered.

Situated in the perfect, tropical zone in the Indian Ocean off the southern tip of India, the Maldives is a vacation paradise for the 1.2 million Westerners who visit annually. But the majority Muslim collective of islands has never had any strain of radical Islam until its independence and democratization in 2008, the New York Times reports.

Since it initiated democracy, the door was opened for a greater expression of the Muslim religion and the islands were soon flooded with mosques teaching a radical version of Salafism paid for by Saudi Arabia.

Now government officials in Malé are worried that the relatively isolated vacation resorts spread across the nation’s island chain will become prime targets of terrorism. Few of the resorts have much by way of security, and since each of the country’s major islands have only one resort each, government officials cannot get to any particular hot spot very quickly.

The island nation has already been struck with at least one terror attack. Ten years ago radicals detonated a bomb in Malé injuring a number of tourists, and several of the nation’s resorts have been hit with large-scale, organized robberies.

Further, because of its decades of peaceful commerce, there are little by way of security protocols to prevent or deal with terror attacks leaving every vacationer vulnerable to terrorism.

Unfortunately, the government response is not keeping pace with the growth or radical Islam in the Maldives and some officials are quietly warning of a coming disaster.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com.


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