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November 2018    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 33, No. 11   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Underwater Statues Are Unwelcome in the Maldives

from the November, 2018 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Underwater Statues in the Maldives

British sculptor Jason de Caires Taylor is famous for his hauntingly beautiful sculptures underwater, from Cancun to the Canary Islands. But his latest work, a submerged art gallery in a lagoon on a Maldivian island, has offended Muslim sensibilities - and government officials had it destroyed.

The Coralarium was intended as an artificial reef at the Fairmont Maldives resort on the island of Sirru Fen Fushi in Shaviyani Atoll. It contained several sculptured statues of people, similar to Taylor's other works in the Caribbean and the Canary Islands. But on September 21, all the Coralarium's artwork was hacked away by military, police and other pickaxewielding law enforcement personnel after the thenpresident of the Maldives, Abdulla Yameen, decided the sculptures were considered idols of worship, and thus offended the five pillars of wisdom of the Muslim faith. The Indian Ocean nation, predominantly Sunni Muslim, was preparing for presidential elections when Yameen gave the order....

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