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Maldivian Police Destroy Underwater Art Gallery

"I was extremely shocked and heartbroken," says artist Jason deCaires Taylor
| Updated On October 1, 2018
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Maldivian Police Destroy Underwater Art Gallery

The aquatic artwork of Jason deCaires Taylor was destroyed Friday by Maldivian police at a luxury resort.

The police took down the human figures at deCaires Taylor’s “Coralarium” with pick axes, saws and ropes with support of former president Abdulla Yameen.

The police stated that the Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi resort was ordered to take down the sculptures by a civil court on Thursday, saying the Coralarium "undermines Islamic faith, peace and order,” per Al Jazeera.

Yameen — who failed to retain the presidency in Sunday’s election — ordered the removal of the statues in July, after concerns were raised about the sin of worshipping idols in the predominantly Islamic nation.

“On Friday last week I was extremely shocked and heartbroken to learn that my sculptures have been destroyed by the Maldivian Authorities at the Coralarium, despite continued consultations and dialogue,” said deCaires Taylor in a statement. “The Coralarium was conceived to connect humans to the environment and a nurturing space for marine life to thrive. Nothing else!

“The Maldives is still beautiful, with a warm and friendly population but it was a sad day for art and sad day for the environment.”

Some saw Yameen’s opposition to the Coralarium as a way to gain the religious vote. Religious organization Jamiyyath Salaf declared its support for Yameen following the raid, according to Al Jazeera.

Ibrahim Mohamed Solih won the election over the weekend in what the BBC called a surprise victory.

The Coralarium was heralded as the world’s first semi-submerged art gallery. It was designed to promote coral growth and allow divers and snorkelers to connect with the local marine life. You can read more about it here.