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Maldives shuts down spas after Islamist protests

Author: Agencies
Publication: The Times of India
Date: January 1, 2012
URL: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-01-01/south-asia/30578480_1_spas-mohamed-nasheed-maldives

The Maldives has ordered hundreds of luxury hotels to close their spas after protests by an Islamist party which claimed they were a front for prostitution. The move is feared to hit the Islamic country's $1.5 billion tourist economy, which accounts for 30% of its GDP.

 Celebrities and honeymooners who flock to the 1,192 tiny coral islands are ready to spend as much as $1,000- $12,000 a night at hideaway resorts, while one spa session could cost around $600. The opposition Adhaalath party, a socially conservative movement, staged protests in capital Male last week, accusing the spas of being used as brothels.

"The government has decided to close massage parlours and spas in the Maldives, following an opposition-led religious protest last week calling for their closure," president Mohamed Nasheed's office said in a statement. "Ironically, the same opposition leaders are some of the country's biggest resort owners."

Former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's opposition coalition Progressive Party of Maldives said the government was targeting leisure business owned by some opposition members. "We wanted the liquor and massage clinics banned in inhabited islands to prevent prostitution. Nasheed is misusing the demands to take revenge by imposing the ban on resorts owned by the on oppositionmembers," the party's spokesman Ahamed Mahloof said.
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