Thursday, February 16, 2012

Formerly Buddhist Maldives in turmoil (video)

Wisdom Quarterly; ABC News "Around the World" with Christiane Amanpour
The remarkable documentary "The Island President," which takes a closer look at the life of Nasheed, comes to theaters on March 28, 2012.

MALE, Maldives - There was once a set of idyllic Buddhist islands. One day a ship wrecked on its sandy bars. Aboard the ship was a Muslim saint who converted the islanders to Islam. This is the story of the formerly Buddhist Maldives, off the southern coast of India, west of Sri Lanka.
  • The Maldive (Lakshadweep) Islands are the tops of a vast submarine mountain range in the Indian Ocean that form a terrestrial ecoregion. The atolls of Maldives encompass a territory spread over roughly 35,000 square miles (90,000 sq km), making it one of the world's most geographically dispersed countries. Its population of 328,536 (2012) inhabits 200 of its 1,192 islands. It is the smallest Asian country in both population and land area with an average ground level of 4 feet 11 inches (1.5 m) above sea level, it is the planet's lowest country. As the country with the lowest natural highest point in the world, at 7 feet 10 inches (2.4 m), its forecast inundation is of great concern.
Fast forward hundreds of years and climate chaos is raising sea levels (whether caused by human activity, solar flares, the dawn of a new age, galactic realignments, Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," the wrath of extraterrestrials, or whatever).

Who cares about the Maldives? Billabong surfer-model Catherine Clark's ghostwriters!

With an average height of four feet, the Maldives is most at risk from changes in water levels due to the melting poles. Meanwhile, we keep polluting the air. We keep tossing plastic into the ocean, leaking oil, wiping out fish stocks, and disregarding the rest of the world.

But it all comes back to us eventually. Ousted and exiled President Mohamed Nasheed speaks exclusively to Christiane Amanpour on Around the World. He did not step down. He claims he was deposed, forced to resign. What happens in the microcosm of the Maldives impacts the rest of the world.

Christiane Amanpour's exclusive interview with deposed President Nasheed

Pres. Nasheed became the first democratically elected president of the Maldives in 2008. These islands are known more for their diving and ritzy resorts than for their religious history or culture.

(Tourists are kept far from the people so as not to despoil uncorrupted native traditions). After the coup, Nasheed is hiding on the nearby island nation of Buddhist Sri Lanka, which has a considerable Indian Muslim, Tamil Hindu, British Christian, and Portuguese Catholic presence.

"Democracy is at stake," Nasheed believes. "What happens in the Maldives happens in the Middle East always two or three years later." More

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