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Maldives politician's racist remark against Indians while mocking PM Modi's Lakshadweep visit sparks outrage

Maldives ruling party member Zahid Rameez sparks outrage with racist remarks on Indians in response to PM Modi's Lakshadweep visit, prompting netizens to boycott Maldives for vacations.

Maldives politician's racist remark against Indians while mocking PM Modi's Lakshadweep visit sparks outrage snt
First Published Jan 6, 2024, 7:37 PM IST

On January 5, Zahid Rameez, a Council member of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), faced backlash for making racist remarks against Indians on the microblogging site X. His comments were prompted by a post from popular X user Mr Sinha, sharing pictures of PM Narendra Modi's Lakshadweep visit. Outraged by the politician's derogatory remarks, netizens vowed to refrain from vacationing in the Maldives in the future. PM Modi's earlier post on January 4 showcased his visit to Lakshadweep, encouraging people to explore the scenic island and supporting the "vocal for local" initiative to boost tourism.

Mr Sinha posted a photo of PM Modi's recent Lakshadweep visit, where the Indian Prime Minister was seen strolling on the pristine beach. Mr Sinha praised the move, stating it's a setback to the new Chinese-influenced government in the Maldives and would boost tourism in Lakshadweep. In response on January 5, Zahid Rameez commented, "The move is great. However, the idea of competing with us is delusional. How can they provide the service we offer? How can they be so clean? The permanent smell in the rooms will be the biggest downfall."

Numerous X users voiced their anger over the PPM member's racist statement, suggesting that Indians were unclean and untidy. They pledged to boycott the Maldives and actively endorse Lakshadweep as their preferred holiday destination.

“Indians should boycott Maldives and visit Lakshadweep instead @narendramodi Thanks Modi Ji for making a special visit to generate interest for this beautiful union territory of ours @presidencymv,” wrote one X user.

Another X user added, "Now check the data of tourists footfall after a year, you will see a surge which might surpass Maldives too & going by the recent developments from Maldives,this might well be a message to them of realising what tourists from Bharat means to its economy but i guess its too late!!”

“Here is Maldives govt official says “permanent smell in the rooms” after PM Modi’s Lakshadweep trip triggered a meltdown and a possible reduction in number of Indian tourists visiting Maldives. Indians, stop spending money on those who don’t deserve it. Make them bend" noted another user on the social media platform.

In reply to the above user's post, another netizen pointed out that Zahid Rameez, who insulted Indians, had recently applied for Indian citizenship. Sharing a screenshot of Rameez's June 28, 2023, post, X user Sandeep Neel stated, "He’s seeking Indian citizenship. It’s crucial that @MEAIndia and @HMOIndia ensure individuals like @xahidcreator, known for spreading hate, are barred from obtaining it."

On June 28, 2023, Zahid Rameez publicly tagged the High Commission of India in Maldives, expressing his desire for Indian citizenship.

Despite facing criticism for his racist comment against Indians on social media, the PPM member chose not to apologize or withdraw his statement. Instead, he defiantly portrayed himself as a victim, emphasizing his identity as a 'Muslim.' Rameez stated, "I was born in India, and FYI, I’m not a lawmaker. I share my thoughts through tweets. It’s confusing why there’s a reaction, especially when there have been more hurtful comments about us, Muslims, and Palestine by your people. Anyway, I usually don’t comment, so this one time, deal with it, please."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarked on a visit to Lakshadweep on January 2 and 3 as part of his South India tour, which also included engagements in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Arriving in Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, on Tuesday, January 2, the Prime Minister then flew to Agatti in Lakshadweep on the same day. Spending the night in the union territory, he participated in various programs before proceeding to Kerala for a road show on January 3.

On January 4, PM Modi took to X to share several photographs showcasing not only his participation in public events but also his involvement in adventurous activities in the picturesque islands. He tried snorkeling and posted pictures of the experience, including two underwater shots of coral reefs and marine life.

Additionally, the Prime Minister shared images of enjoying leisure time on the beach, expressing, "In addition to the scenic beauty, Lakshadweep's tranquility is also mesmerizing. It gave me an opportunity to reflect on how to work even harder for the welfare of 140 crore Indians." He mentioned taking early morning walks "along the pristine beaches," describing them as "moments of pure bliss."

Following PM Modi's post, there was a significant surge in searches for the terms "Lakshadweep" and "snorkeling." Google searches for snorkeling increased by over 2000%, while searches for Lakshadweep witnessed a rise of around 350%.

During his visit to Lakshadweep, the Prime Minister inaugurated development projects worth more than Rs 1,150 crore.

The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) recently assumed power in the country with its candidate, Dr. Mohamed Muizzu, becoming the newly elected president by defeating Ibrahim Mohamed Solih from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

Dr. Muizzu is perceived as more inclined towards China than his predecessor, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who had advocated for stronger ties with India. In November of the previous year, Dr. Muizzu formally requested India to withdraw its military forces from the Maldives. The request was conveyed to Indian Union Minister Kiren Rijiju during his visit for the president's inauguration ceremony. In response, Indian officials expressed their commitment to finding a "workable solution."

This development follows the president's announcement of plans to remove foreign military forces from the nation, emphasizing his support for the withdrawal of a small Indian force from the Indian Ocean archipelago. This region is strategically significant as it is an area where China and India vie for influence. As the ninth president of the Maldives, the 45-year-old leader holds a crucial position in the strategically positioned island nation in the Indian Ocean.

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