Oct 31, 2010
So, about the foul-mouthed wedding ceremony video ...
It is all over the internet. I am sure you would have already seen the amateur video of the foul-mouthed wedding ceremony by now. The video shows celebrants of a muslim wedding ceremony reading some nasty stuff in local language in a prayer like fashion to the unsuspecting foreign couple in a tourist resort. Foreigners cannot get officially married
in the Maldives, this was a celebration to renew vows. Nevertheless, it was a shameful and a derogatory act by the celebrants. It should not have happened.
A lot have happened in the week following the release of the amateur video on YouTube. The celebrants of the ceremony have been taken in to police custody for further investigation. Government authorities have issued official apologies. The tourist couple have been identified and promised full compensation. I am also of the opinion that the management of the tourist facility should also be investigated for lack of proper care to their clients.
I was shocked and deeply saddened that something like this happened in my country. A country which relies heavily on tourism, where the market for foreign "weddings" is on the rise. Articles on local blogs and social networks show that most Maldivian share my sentiments. I was equally shocked and flabbergasted that an incident like this was reported in a local English language newspapers, with word to word translation of the reading at the ceremony, ensuing which, the story
was picked up and reproduced in several major international newspapers.
It is a fact that a free media is important to a democracy. The media plays a crucial role in todays world. It is the conscious keeper, watching over the functionaries of society and it attempts to attend to the wrongs in our system by bringing them to the knowledge of general public, hoping for rectification.
But there is an often neglected but an important aspect to media, it is called responsible journalism. No content should be published in the sole intention of expanding readership. The editors of online newspapers know well that regional readership is a thing of the past and anything that they publish on their website can and will be viewed globally. If the media aspires to become a respected institution, it should make a genuine effort to strike the precarious balance between engaging content, entertaining the reader, and possible consequences of their reportage with national interest at heart. There are certain domestic issues that do not need to be broadcast world over.
This particular incident happened in a secluded tourist resort, and could have been handled without it being reported on BBC, CNN, The Telegraph, The Independent, China News and all big name news outlets of the world. Just because an article can attract traffic to a website does not justify its publication. It is quite evident, the approach of some branches of the media to this story was not only irresponsible but also positively damaging to the dream destination image of this
I also found it hard to believe that heads of government offices were giving out interviews about the incident to foreign media. I thought the government would be doing everything that they possibly could to contain the problem and mitigate the damages. Top level government officials answering questions by foreign media in the hope of lessening the impact may have just attracted more attention to the event.
I hope this is the last incident of this kind to ever happen in this country. We need to make people more aware that tourism is no fair game, but each and every tourist should be treated with care and respect. It is the money that they spend here, that drives our economy. It is the revenue from the tourism industry that help us survive as a nation and as a country.
One more thing. I got married a few years back, and like all Maldivians, I had a muslim wedding ceremony. A good share of the
ceremony was conducted in Arabic, and like most Maldivians, I have absolutely no clue what they said. Hmmm.