Celebrant arrested for abusing tourists

The celebrant, who conducted the ceremony in the local language at an upmarket resort fringed by white sand and turquoise water, had been arrested with another hotel employee, Maldivian police spokesman Ahmed Shiyam said.

A video of the ceremony, during which the hapless couple are taunted and subjected to a series of insulting and religious-tinged abuse, was posted on YouTube and has sparked fears for the country’s tourism-dependent economy.

The hotel had initially identified the victims as Swiss, but a highly placed tourism source in the Maldives said they were in fact French. Police declined to confirm the couple’s nationality.

“We started investigations and treat this as a very serious matter,” Mr Shiyam said.

Mr Shiyam said the two men were taken before a magistrate who ordered them to be detained for five days.

“Both are being held at a police station in Male,” he said.

Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed announced his government would introduce strict guidelines on conducting wedding ceremonies in his nation of tiny coral islands which is known as a top honeymoon destination.

“All tourist hotels without exception will be required to follow the new guidelines, which will be issued shortly,” the president’s office said in a statement.

Nasheed expressed ‚Äúdisgust” at the incident and described the behaviour of those involved as “absolutely disgraceful”, the statement said.

He appealed to hotel staff to be “vigilantly professional” and said “bad behaviour, such as that depicted in the YouTube video, can cause enormous damage to the country’s tourism industry”.

The ceremony took place early in the month but a video of it was posted on the internet by another hotel employee five days ago and has since gone viral.

The Vilu Reef hotel, where the ceremony took place, said it was “unforgivable” that a staff member had read out the sexual and religious slurs in the Dhivehi language. The hotel formally apologised for the staffer’s conduct.

“You are swine,” the couple were told. “The children that you bear from this marriage will all be bastard swine.

“Your marriage is not a valid one. 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.”

The wife, wearing a white dress and carrying a bouquet, and her husband smile shyly through the ceremony, which was to renew their marriage vows at a cost of $1331.

In front of a table decorated with incense sticks, the English-speaking couple bow their heads in prayer through the torrent of accusations, curses and swearing from the celebrant.

At the end of the 15-minute routine, the newlyweds exchange rings as the staff clap, before heading onto the beach to plant a coconut tree in the sand.

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