An alternate headline, with reference to the country’s capital:
“Muslim males mull making Male more Muslim.”
“New Maldives leader names conservatives to Cabinet,” from the Associated Press, February 12:
MALE, Maldives (AP) “” The Maldives’ new president expanded his Cabinet on Sunday to include religious conservatives who have been demanding the introduction of strict Islamic laws in the Indian Ocean nation that relies on high-end tourism.
Demonstrations over the past year calling for more religiously conservative policies as well as widespread protests over soaring prices had put pressure on the former leader, Mohamed Nasheed. He resigned last week after his order to arrest a senior judge sparked continuous protests. He later said he had been ousted in a coup, leading to a political crisis.
New President Mohammed Waheed Hassan said he was forming a coalition government to help restore stability in the Muslim country ahead of presidential elections due next year. Six members from four political parties were sworn in Sunday as ministers.
They include members of religious conservative Adhaalat, or Justice Party, which wants to see the introduction of Shariah law, and the Progressive Party of the Maldives headed by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the former autocratic leader who ruled for 30 years until Nasheed defeated him in the country’s first multiparty election in 2008.
The constitution prohibits any religion other than Islam being practiced or preached in the Maldives and specifies that it be governed according to Islamic principles. But authorities have generally been flexible mainly to preserve the country’s tourism industry.
However, Islamic activists led by Adhaalat have protested against the former government’s ties with Israel and demanded alcohol not be sold outside resorts. The party also led a protest in December against United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay after she asked the Maldives to stop flogging women found to have had sex outside marriage.
It was unclear whether Adhaalat could succeed in getting strict Islamic laws implemented.
The other three parties in the coalition are relatively moderate.
Gayoom, since losing power, has kept away from active politics. Although it is unclear whether he will return to public life, he is likely to influence government policies.