Let's cast our minds back to 2010 and that infamous wedding ceremony, where a couple of unwitting newlyweds had a local ceremony to celebrate their nuptials, only to secretly be called 'infidels' and 'swine' in the local tongue. An isolated incident, perhaps, but since 2011 the government has been flexing its censorship muscles as the hardline Ministry of Islamic Affairs takes down dissenting blogs, arrests journalists and generally acts like an insecure bully.
Having been myself, I can tell you that's a side of the islands that tourists rarely see, being whisked off to their hotel-chain-owned islands (if you don't know, each tourist island is basically run by a different hotel) and there's little need to worry about human rights when you're sitting down to your coconut shrimp starter in the underwater restaurant of the Ritz-Carlton, on the Ritz-Carlton Island. Head to the capital, Malé, and you can see much clearer signs of fundamentalism, in the mosques especially.
Anyway, the latest reports are that this (from The Guardian): "Poetry and literature will have to be approved by the Maldivian government before they are published in the country, according to new regulations which have been described as a “disaster for freedom of expression” by free speech campaigners."
It's unclear as yet as to whether the Ministry will go so far as to snatch copies of 50 Shades of Grey from incoming honeymooners (OK, some of them might bring in Tolstoy, I'm not being presumptuous) because heaven forbid they leave a copy lying around for the underpaid hotel staff to glance at. But at best, the national bureau and its role as the enforcement arm of a creeping autocracy are sure to heighten the tense relationship that hardline Islamic countries which depend on western tourism all seem to have. Yes, Dubai, we're looking at you. As usual.