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  1. ITV Report

Maldives police destroy 'anti-Islamic' sea sculptures

The government of the Maldives destroying a semi-submerged sculpture with a pickaxe. Credit: Maldives Police

Police have destroyed the world's first tidal gallery at a Maldives holiday resort with pickaxes and drills after it was branded a "threat to Islamic unity".

The artwork was known as the 'Coralarium' and was designed by British artist Jason deCaires Taylor.

The semi-submerged gallery at the Faimont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi, opened in July and features work such as Mr Taylor's water sculptures.

But the former Maldives president Abdulla Yameen said the human form sculptures were anti-Islamic.

The Tourism Ministry said the court ruled the sculptures posed a threat to Islamic unity. Credit: Maldives Police

Authorities said the art installation had been cleared out and shared pictures on social media of the task being carried out on Friday.

The Coralarium which is based near the centre of the archipelago in the Indian Ocean had about 30 sculptures removed.

This was one of the last acts of the government before Yameen's defeat in Maldives' election on Sunday.

The Tourism Ministry said the court ruled the Coralarium posed a threat to "Islamic unity and the peace and interests of the Maldivian state" and that its removal was necessary to "protect the five tenets of Islamic shariah", according to local outlets.

Police removed around 30 sculptures off the Sirru Fen Fushi resort in the Maldives. Credit: Maldives Police

After learning of the action police took to his work, British artist Jason deCaires Taylor said on Instagram: "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.

"The Coralarium was conceived to connect humans to the environment and a nurturing space for marine life to thrive. Nothing else!"

Jason showcased his work earlier this summer in July. Credit: JasonDeCairesTaylor Instagram

He continued: "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".

In a statement Fairmont Maldives said: "While we are very surprised by the sudden removal of eco-art pieces by the authorities we respect the people, traditions and customs of the Maldives.

"The removal process of the installed artwork was peaceful and friendly without interruption to our world famous service.

"The Coralarium gallery structure and the tree lined underwater coral boulevard remains intact, ensuring the coral restoration program remains alive and well. We have initiated immediate plans for the next exhibit, creating a new attraction within the Coralarium gallery."