The Maldives, where tourists and extremists mingle

As for anyone who likes to dive, the Maldives have been high on my list for years. I have heard that virtually all of the 1200 coral islands are magnificent and the diving incredible. I haven’t been able to swing a trip there yet, but I am thinking I should do so very soon.

This week’s The Economist article “Sea, Sun and Jihad” talks about the rising tendency of Islamic extremism in The Maldives, the richest country in South Asia in terms of GDP per capita. In January, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was rescued from a knife attack when visiting one of the islands. Last September, terrorists detonated a bomb in the capital Male, injuring 12 tourists. The Maldives government says that there is no evidence of international terrorism. Instead, it blames homegrown terrorists. Is that better, I wonder?

The attempts to impose a state-sponsored moderate Islam have no been successful. The Economist is saying that it is the political uncertainty of the Maldives that is providing a space in which Islamist extremism can grown. The country’s first multi-party election is due this year. Let’s hope things get better.