Hotel remorse as tourists abused at Maldives love ceremony
A hotel in the Maldives apologised Thursday after a couple who thought they were being blessed at an idyllic beach ceremony were in fact subject to foul abuse in a language they did not understand.
The Vilu Reef hotel said it was unforgivable that a staff member conducting the renewal of marriage vows had solemnly read out a series of extreme sexual and religious slurs in the Dhivehi tongue spoken in the Maldives.
"The management of the resort is deeply saddened by this humiliating event," the hotel's owners said in a statement, deploring "the unforgivable conduct" of its staff.
A video surfaced on YouTube showing the ceremony supervisor mocking and insulting the unknown Swiss couple, calling them "swine" and "infidels" amid a string of bizarre insults.
The wife, wearing a white dress and carrying a bouquet, and her husband smile shyly through the ceremony, obeying orders from the "minister" when to sit down, stand up and hold hands.
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.
At the end of the 15-minute, 1,300-dollar ceremony, they exchange rings as the staff clap, before heading onto the beach to plant a coconut tree in the sand.
The Muslim-majority Maldives, a nation of palm-fringed islands scattered in the Indian Ocean, is one of the world's most exclusive honeymoon destinations and its economy relies heavily on tourism.
Foreign Minister Ahmed Shaheed has expressed horror at the footage and officials have launched an investigation as the Maldives tries to protect its image as a holiday paradise.
"We sincerely apologise for the damage and serious repercussions this incident could cause to the tourism industry of the Maldives, the image of the country, the Maldivian people and their government," the hotel said.
The Vilu Reef hotel offers ceremonies to renew wedding vows on its website, inviting couples to "seal your everlasting love" against a sunset that "transforms the sky into a kaleidoscope of romantic hues".
"Various types of insults about the woman and the man, their clothing and demeanour, are being spoken throughout in the form of a running commentary in a sports video," the local Minivan News website said.
© 2010 AFP