Maldives diplomatic crisis: PPM council member’s anti-Indian remarks trigger boycott calls

However, the mood took a sharp turn when a user praised PM Modi’s visit and suggested its potential to boost Lakshadweep’s tourism, indirectly comparing it to the Maldives. Zahid Rameez, apparently offended by the comparison, responded with disparaging remarks about Indians, questioning their ability to match the Maldives’ standards.

Zahid Rameez, a Council member of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), has ignited a storm of controversy with derogatory and racist remarks against Indians on the microblogging site X. The incident unfolded on January 5, following a post by a user named Mr Sinha, who shared images of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Lakshadweep.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Lakshadweep on Tuesday served as the backdrop for the controversy. During his visit, PM Modi highlighted a decade of developmental projects in the Lakshadweep Islands, encouraging tourism and endorsing the ‘Vocal for Local’ campaign. His underwater exploration and enthusiastic promotion of the picturesque island were shared on X, sparking positive reactions from users.

However, the mood took a sharp turn when a user praised PM Modi’s visit and suggested its potential to boost Lakshadweep’s tourism, indirectly comparing it to the Maldives. Zahid Rameez, apparently offended by the comparison, responded with disparaging remarks about Indians, questioning their ability to match the Maldives’ standards.

Rameez’s derogatory statement triggered widespread outrage on X, with netizens not only condemning his remarks but also expressing their intention to boycott the Maldives as a tourist destination. One user predicted a decline in tourist footfall in the Maldives within a year, while another hailed PM Modi’s move as a “masterstroke” for promoting Indian islands like Lakshadweep and Andaman over perceived “hostile” countries like the Maldives.

The controversy took an unexpected turn when X user unearthed Zahid Rameez’s prior application for Indian citizenship in 2023. A screenshot of Rameez’s June 28, 2023 post revealed his past pursuit of Indian citizenship. This revelation added a new layer to the controversy, with the user urging the Ministry of External Affairs and Home Ministry to scrutinize individuals known for propagating hate before granting them Indian citizenship.

As the news of Rameez’s comments spread, the online community united in condemning his remarks. Hashtags like #BoycottMaldives and #SayNoToHate trended on social media platforms, amplifying the call to abstain from vacationing in the Maldives. The controversy became a focal point for discussions on racism, diplomacy, and the impact of social media on international relations.

Several prominent voices joined the chorus of disapproval, urging Maldivian authorities to address the matter. Organizations and influencers associated with the tourism industry expressed concern about the potential economic repercussions for the Maldives if the boycott gained traction.

In response to the escalating situation, Maldivian officials issued a statement distancing the government from Rameez’s comments, emphasizing the importance of maintaining friendly relations with neighbouring countries. The statement, however, fell short of apologizing for Rameez’s remarks, further fueling the discontent among those calling for a boycott.

As the controversy surrounding Zahid Rameez’s remarks continues to unfold, it underscores the interconnectedness of social media, diplomacy, and public opinion. The incident has not only strained relations between the Maldives and India but also highlighted the potential consequences of inflammatory statements in the digital age. The fallout from this controversy may have far-reaching implications for both nations, shaping future diplomatic engagements and influencing public perceptions on issues of national pride and identity.