The Maldivian surfing community has announced the initiation of a petition, calling for a ban on Israeli citizens from entering the Maldives for tourism or business purposes. This controversial move comes as the community claims that the presence of Israeli tourists has resulted in several issues, including physical assaults, harassment, and a negative impact on the local tourism sector.
At yesterday's press conference held by the Surfing Association of Maldives, The Body Boarding Association, and The International Aid Campaign (IAC), the decision to draft the petition was revealed to the public. The three organizations jointly issued the statement, outlining their concerns and objectives regarding the presence of Israeli tourists in the Maldives.
The petition outlines three key demands. The first and most prominent is the call for a blanket ban on Israeli citizens entering the Maldives, whether for leisure or business purposes. The organizations argue that this measure is necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of the Maldivian surfing community.
Furthermore, they have urged relevant authorities to investigate reported incidents of direct physical assault and harassment allegedly perpetrated by Israeli tourists. Incidents have included derogatory comments, as well as verbal and physical abuse.
President of the Maldives Surfing Association, in discussing the petition, expressed the community's desire to protect local surfers from the harassment and abuse they claim to have suffered at the hands of Israeli surfers.
In addition, the President of the Body Boarding Association revealed concerning incidents that have taken place during the surfing season when a significant number of Israeli tourists visit the Maldives. The association reported instances of disrespect towards Islam, including making fun of prayer calls and expressing inappropriate desires for natural disasters that would destroy Maldivian people. There were also claims of physical and verbal abuse targeted at children. In a recent surfing tournament held in Thulusdu, the association had to intervene to address abusive language directed at children.
The joint associations emphasized that these issues have not only affected the safety and well-being of local surfers but have also negatively impacted the tourism sector in the Maldives. They claim that some tourists from other countries are hesitant to visit the Maldives due to concerns about harassment by Israeli tourists.
The petition is scheduled to be officially launched and open for signatures on the 28th of this month.
The launch of the petition has garnered significant support from the local and international communities, with many citing the ongoing conflict in Gaza as a contributing factor. Since the 7th of this month, Israel's military actions in Gaza have claimed the lives of nearly 4,000 individuals, with a substantial portion consisting of innocent women and children. This tragic situation has fueled public sentiment and prompted heightened awareness of the petition's objectives. The broader context of the Israel-Gaza conflict has stirred strong emotions, potentially amplifying the resonance of the Maldivian surfing community's call to address issues related to the presence of Israeli tourists in the Maldives.