'Ousted' Maldives leader calls for 'British aid' in bid to salvage nation from 'Islamic hardliners'

Last Updated: Sat, Sep 22, 2012 07:10 hrs

Former president of Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, has appealed for assistance from the UK, over concerns that the growing influence of Islamic hardliners can have a dramatic impact on the future of tourism in the nation.

In an interview after meeting UK Foreign Secretary William Hague in London, Nasheed claimed that he was concerned that the progress made in the country after 30 years of dictatorship was rapidly unravelling.

"We are trying to explain to the British Government what is going on. They have banned dancing. They have banned singing. They have banned spas. They have been raiding whole lots of spas. Yesterday, for the first time they burned down the American flag and no one in government has condemned that. The new president is relying on the radical Islamists [for political support]," Nasheed told The Independent.

According to the paper, earlier this week, an American flag was burnt in public during anti-US protests in Male, the capital of the Maldives, the Indian Ocean archipelago known for its atolls and honeymoon hotels.

Responding to the growing power of conservative Islamic clerics on the islands, the Maldives Government then banned singing in public, spas and mixed-sex dancing, the paper said.

Following the move, Nasheed, Maldives' first democratically elected president, who was overthrown in a coup in February, has now warned Hague that the situation is increasingly unstable and called for Western help to foster liberal democratic institutions to combat the rise of fundamentalism and push for fresh elections, it added. (ANI)

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