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Maldives government orders resorts to shut their spas

The government issued the ban following allegations from an opposition Islamist party that the spas are a front for brothels.
Maldives spa 2011 12 30Enlarge
Kurumba island in the Maldives basks in the sun. (SANKA VIDANAGAMA/AFP/Getty Images)

The government of the Maldives has ordered resorts in the country to close all spas and health centers that offer massages following allegations from an opposition Islamist party that prostitution was occurring at these spas, BBC News reported.

Thousands of supporters of the conservative Adhaalat (Justice) party took to the streets in the capital Male last week to protest against the spas and other “anti-Islamic” activities such as alcohol sales, the Guardian reported. Sunni Islam is the official religion in the Maldives.

According to the Associated Press:

Debates on religious issues have emerged since a group vandalized a monument gifted by Pakistan marking a South Asian summit last month with the image of Buddha. Buddhism was part of the present Islamic republic's history.

The Maldives Association of Tourism Industry has asked the government to reverse the ban since, the organization argues, it is sure to stifle tourism, the BBC reported. In 2011, 850,000 tourists visited the islands that make up the Maldives, including celebrities and deep-pocketed honeymooners paying up to $12,000 a day for luxury accommodations.

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