The Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi has been ordered to remove sculptures from a newly built underwater art gallery in the resort’s lagoon.
“Upon receiving information that idols have been put up at Shaviyani Sirru Fenfushi, the president’s office has instructed the ministry of tourism to complete their removal by the end of tomorrow,” reads a statement issued Friday evening in the local Dhivehi language.
The ministry is working with the resort management to remove the statutes, it added.
In an English statement, the president’s office cited “significant public sentiment against the installation of underwater sculptures” at the high-end resort.
The nearly 30 sculptures were made by British artist Jason deCaires Taylor for the semi-submerged Coralarium art gallery, the first of its kind in the world.
The resort was planning to offer guided tours with resident marine biologists.
“The idea of this project is about combining art with conservation. So it’s building an art exhibit that will also turn and be changed by nature into this artificial reef,” Taylor explained in a short film.
The sculptures were based on casts of real people, about half of whom were from the Maldives.
Their forced removal comes after the government faced criticism from religious scholars and opposition politicians who deem human-form sculptures anti-Islamic.
Following the announcement, MP Ahmed Nihan, the ruling party’s parliamentary group leader, thanked President Abdulla Yameen “as a Muslim Maldivian citizen”, a sentiment echoed by Sheikh Ali Zahir bin Saeed, dean of the faculty of law and Islamic studies at the Maldives National University.
The Salaf sheikh previously warned that Maldivians should be wary of “the shirk of worshipping idols.”
Dr Mohamed Iyaz, a prominent religious scholar from the opposition Adhaalath Party, called for action against those responsible for the “atrocity” in lieu of playing out a “drama” ahead of September’s presidential election.
Their concern drew ridicule from many social media users who questioned whether mannequins could also be considered idols of worship.
More recently, the Four Seasons Kuda Huraa resort removed sphinx statues lined up along its arrival pier after complaints to the police.
The Dhivehi language lacks words for statutes, dolls or monuments and such objects are generally referred to as Budhu (idols), the worship of which is a sin in Islam.
Photo from Jason deCaires Taylor
Sh. Sirru fenfusheegai ( Gaakoshibeega) behetti Insaanunge Sifaiga huri Budhu thah maadhamaage niyalah nagaa saaf kurumah Raeesuljumhooriyyaa Engevee thee Emanikufaanan Muslim Dhivehi Raiyyithehge Haissiyathun Shukuru Dhannavan. Jazaa’kallah Khair pic.twitter.com/T1aiPm2CYN
— Ahmed Nihan (@ahmed_nihan) July 27, 2018
It’s not like a project of the scale that was carried out at Sh. Sirrufenfushi could have been executed without the knowledge of the powers that be. How stupid do you think the people are @presidencymv? 🤦♀️
— sighpad.m™ (@sighpad) July 27, 2018
1. to place the so called budhu on a reef several permissions are required. which was issued by the government.
2. Import of Budhu is prohibited. All these budhu was imported through the Customs and MPL.
3. dhivehin hama gamaaareeee!!!!
— Nutmegirl🎈❔ (@nutmegirly) July 28, 2018
Think about the this 👇
They Ask Resort to Remove those hand made "budhu" but they forgot to ask them to stop selling Alcohol.🤔.
— AkeyAkram (@akey_akram) July 28, 2018
An art exhibition MAY, or MAY NOT be irreligious! But a temple (budhu koalu) would certainly b irreligious to majority of Maldivians! What they have in Gaakoshibee is a temple full of idols n it hurts the feelings of Maldivians! @HuraveeG @rumaalu2 #YRY #RY2018 #MaldivesInCrisis
— Huravee Gulshan (@HuraveeG) July 28, 2018
Ugh! So torn. Do I have to stop and worship every budhu I see inside the shop displays on Majeedhee Magu?! I'll never get anything done at this rate if I have to do that. Ilm verin needs attend to this before my aqeedha breaks.
— ReforMyst (@AzMyst) July 26, 2018
Hey @presidencymv, seeing the mannequins in the shop across the streets makes my aqeeda weak.
Please ban all mannequins.
Mannequins = budhu
Budhu = shirk
Shirk = haram
Please save our aqeeda! The mannequins are trying to turn us all into idol worshipers! Save us!
— Ib Nawaf 🎈 (@ib_nawaf) July 28, 2018
Govt can declare tomorrow as a holiday to facilitate a parade, but it can’t declare 23 September as a holiday to facilitate the most basic right and civic responsibility: voting.
Govt can ask resorts to remove “budhu”, but it can’t ask resorts to allow ballot boxes on premises.
— Mickail Naseem 🎈 (@MickailNaseem) July 28, 2018