South Asia

Maldives vows wedding crackdown

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Media captionMaldivian High Commissioner to UK, Dr Farahanaz Faisal: "The whole country is shocked"

The Maldives' leader has promised strict new guidelines on conducting wedding ceremonies for tourists, after a couple renewing vows were abused.

All tourist hotels will be required to follow the rules to be issued shortly, President Mohamed Nasheed said in his weekly radio address.

He described the behaviour of those involved as "absolutely disgraceful".

Police have detained a celebrant who allegedly called the foreign couple "infidels" during a luxury ceremony.

'French' couple

The president's office told the BBC that the man was among two hotel employees detained.

Footage of the ceremony, which took place earlier this month, has gone viral since being posted on YouTube days ago.

With police refusing to confirm the couple's nationality, their identity remains a mystery, although a Maldives tourism official told AFP news agency they were French.

President Nasheed urged all those working in the Indian Ocean island's holiday resorts to be "vigilantly professional".

He noted that "bad behaviour, such as that depicted in the YouTube video, can cause enormous damage to the country's tourism industry".

The government has launched an investigation into the incident at the Vilu Reef resort.

Amateur film on YouTube shows a celebrant explaining the ceremony in English before everyone stands and holds their hands up to pray.

'Fornication'

He uses the intonating style of prayers to unleash a torrent of abuse in the Dhivehi tongue on the couple, who smile shyly, unaware of what is being said.

"Your marriage is not a valid one," he says. "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, who does not even believe in an infidel religion.

"You fornicate and make a lot of children. You drink and you eat pork.

"Most of the children that you have are marked with spots and blemishes. These children that you have are bastards."

The camera focuses on the paperwork in front of him, which local media say was not a marriage document but employment contracts - he then begins to read from these.

The celebrant also makes references to bestiality, sexual diseases and "frequent fornication by homosexuals".

After the ceremony, the couple are taken to plant a coconut tree together, during which various comments are made about the bride's breasts.

Vilu Reef hotel, run by Sun Hotels and Resorts, charges $1,300 (£820) for the ceremony, which it says offers couples the chance to "mark a milestone in your amazing journey together".

The hotel has apologised for the conduct of its staff.

Manager Mohamed Rasheed told AFP on Thursday: "The man had used filthy language. Otherwise the ceremony was OK."

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