Maldives suspends 3 ministers for ‘derogatory’ remarks on PM Modi

New Delhi | Updated: 07 January, 2024 8:00 pm IST

NEW DELHI: In a move reflecting the Maldivian government’s commitment to diplomatic decorum, three deputy ministers have been suspended from their positions following their controversial remarks on social media targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The incident unfolded after PM Modi released a video showcasing his recent visit to Lakshadweep to boost tourism in the region. Some Indians speculated that the video aimed to convey the message that Indians need not travel to the Maldives for vacations, as they could enjoy the beauty of the Maldives within their own country.

An Indian social media activist exacerbated tensions by labelling the Maldives a ‘puppet country of China.’ This triggered responses from Maldivian political activists who perceived Modi’s video as a challenge to their nation’s tourism industry.

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As the online discourse escalated, inappropriate comments and racial criticisms against Indians surfaced. Maryam Shiuna and Malsha Warning, deputy ministers in the youth ministry, garnered attention for their direct insults toward the Indian Prime Minister.

Although Shiuna’s tweet has since been deleted, she referred to Modi as a “clown,” while Malsha shared Modi’s video on X with derisive emojis.

Responding to the escalating situation, the Maldivian foreign ministry issued a statement, expressing awareness of derogatory remarks on social media platforms targetting foreign leaders and high-ranking individuals. The statement emphasised that these opinions are personal and do not represent the views of the Maldivian government.

“The Government of Maldives is aware of derogatory remarks on social media platforms against foreign leaders and high-ranking individuals. These opinions are personal and do not represent the views of the Government of Maldives…Moreover, the relevant authorities of the Government will not hesitate to take action against those who make such derogatory remarks,” the statement read.

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Approximately an hour after the foreign ministry’s warning, Maryam Shiuna, Malsha Shareef, and Mahzoom Majid, another deputy minister at the youth ministry, were suspended. An official from the Maldivian President’s Office confirmed the suspensions but refrained from providing further details, a report by Atoll Times stated.

The Maldivian foreign ministry underscored its commitment to the principles of democratic and responsible freedom of expression. It emphasised the need for expressions that do not propagate hatred, negativity, or hinder the close relationships between the Maldives and its international partners.

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