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Tourist couple abused during Maldives wedding

By the CNN Wire Staff
The Maldives are a favorite of well-heeled Westerners lured by its white sandy beaches.
The Maldives are a favorite of well-heeled Westerners lured by its white sandy beaches.
  • Couple thinks they are taking part in a wedding renewal ceremony
  • The officiant curses and mocks them in the local language
  • The incident comes to light after a video surfaces on YouTube
  • The president calls the staff's behavior "absolutely disgraceful"
  • Maldives

(CNN) -- The Maldives will introduce strict guidelines on conducting wedding ceremonies for tourists after a foreign couple was mocked and abused by staff members at a local resort, the president's office said Friday.

The couple thought they were taking part in a marriage renewal ceremony conducted in the local Dhivehi language. But the officiant used the occasion to insult them and call them names.

The Maldives -- an archipelago of almost 1,200 coral islands south-southeast of India -- is a secular nation of 370,000 Muslims. But it is a favorite of well-heeled Westerners lured by its white sandy beaches.

The incident came to light when a YouTube video of the ceremony surfaced recently.

The nationalities of the couple are not known, but they speak in English in the video.

The woman -- wearing a white dress - and the man bow their heads in prayer in what they think is a wedding renewal.

But the person conducting the ceremony calls them "swines" and "infidels" and says children of such a union will be "illegitimate," according to a translation provided by the local Minivan news website.

At the end of the ceremony, the couple exchange rings and head to the beach to plant a coconut tree in the sand. At several points in the video, the officiant is heard cautioning the videographer to make sure he did not record the profanities.

In his weekly radio address Friday, the nation's president, Mohamed Nasheed, said he was disgusted by the incident and described the behavior of the staff as "absolutely disgraceful."

All tourist hotels without exception will be required to follow the new guidelines which will be issued shortly, he said.

"No stone will be left unturned to ensure that an incident like this never happens again," the government said in a statement Thursday.

Ahmed Shiyam, the sub-inspector of police in the capital Male, said officers have taken two people in custody -- the one who performed the ceremony and another who assisted him. The resort, he said, was cooperating with the investigation.

He refused to share details about the couple.

CNN's Christabelle Fombu contributed to this report.