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Video: Couple conned by Maldives marriage officiator

  1. Transcript of: Couple conned by Maldives marriage officiator

    AMY ROBACH, co-host: Renewing their wedding vows in the exotic surroundings of the Maldives was meant to be a memory one couple would remember forever, but it wasn't exactly what they bargained for. NBC 's Tazeen Ahmad is live in London with the story. Good morning, Tazeen .

    TAZEEN AHMAD reporting: Good morning, Amy . A simple ceremony at a luxury beach hotel in the middle of the Indian Ocean has caused a huge media storm. Renewing their vows, they said, "I do." But I do to what?

    Unidentified Man: I'm telling you that this marriage of yours cannot be said to be a legal marriage because one of you is a Kaafir

    A romantic ceremony turned into a joke by these men.

    AHMAD: Behold! Most of the children you will get will have spots on their skin.

    Man: This Swiss couple paid almost $ 1300 for an idyllic beach blessing in the Maldives , an upmarket tourist destination. In doing so, they became a YouTube sensation. Hotel staff from the Vilu Reef Beach Spa Resort subjected the unwitting couple to mockery, expletives and sexual slurs, most of it too obscene to be repeated, and then posted the video online. Golden sand, turquoise seas and all-year round sunshine make the Maldives the ultimate romantic location. It attracts couples from around the world for that once in a lifetime exotic holiday, but now it's trouble in paradise. Shamed faces and emphatic apologies from the Maldivian government, whose economy relies heavily on tourism. " The Maldives is renowned for its warm hospitality and this incident has brought great shame upon our tourism industry and our country."

    AHMAD: Sensing a public relations disaster for the Indian Ocean islands, the tourism industry has gone into damage control overdrive.

    AHMAD: I do believe it was a one-off incident. I don't -- this is not widespread in the Maldives .

    Mr. RICHARD FRAMPTON (Hurlingham Travel): Only time will tell if this has tarnished the image of the Maldives for the long term, but for this one couple, it will be a day they will certainly want to forget. And, Amy , two of the resort staff have been arrested while a full investigation continues, and the government is planning to introduce strict new guidelines on wedding ceremonies for tourists. Amy :

    AHMAD: Tazeen Ahmad , thanks so much. What a story.

    ROBACH: Yeah.

    LESTER HOLT, co-host: I can't even imagine. We couldn't even tell people what they said.

    ROBACH: Moral of the story, ask for an English ceremony, I guess. That's awful.

    HOLT: Then you know what's happening, right.

    ROBACH:

msnbc.com
updated 10/30/2010 10:30:31 AM ET 2010-10-30T14:30:31

Two hotel workers have been arrested after Swiss tourists renewing their wedding vows at a luxury resort in the Indian Ocean were branded "infidels" and "swine" during the ceremony, according to reports.

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Amateur video of the incident in the Maldives shows the marriage officiator abusing the couple in the Dhivehi tongue — as the bride and groom smile oblivious to what is being said. The footage has been viewed by thousands of people since being posted on YouTube.

"Your marriage is not a valid one," the man says, according to a translation obtained by the BBC. "You are not the kind of people who can have a valid marriage. One of you is an infidel.

"The other, too, is an infidel — and we have reason to believe — an atheist, who does not even believe in an infidel religion.

"You fornicate and make a lot of children. You drink and you eat pork. Most of the children that you have are marked with spots and blemishes. These children that you have are bastards."

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According to the BBC, the celebrant also refers to sexual diseases and bestiality. Comments are also made about the bride's breasts and the pair are described as "swine."

'Seal your everlasting love'
The Vilu Reef Beach and Spa Resort in the Maldives charges $1,300 for the ceremony. Hotel officials have apologized. The Indian Ocean nation is a popular honeymoon destination.

The resort's website promises that ceremony is the perfect way to "seal your everlasting love."

"Renew your wedding vows on the beach of the tranquil island of Vilu Reef, just the two of you hand in hand against a golden sunset backdrop," it says. "After the nuptials, sail away into the sunset in our love dhoni, your first voyage as man and wife. Afterwards, indulge in a romantic dinner under a canopy of thousand stars before retiring to your specially decorated villa."

Rooms at the luxurious resort this winter range from $230 to $950 per night. The resort also offers seaplane transfers from the airport for $350 per person.

The government identified the couple as Swiss nationals but did not name them.
The ceremony is thought to have occurred earlier this month.

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Government apologies were swift and profuse.

Maldives Foreign Minister Ahmed Shaheed said the country was "grateful that the couple in question chose to renew their vows in one of our resorts."

"Because of the disrespectful and unacceptable actions of a few individuals, we have let them down," Shaheed said in his statement.

The Maldives' ambassador to Switzerland, Iruthisham Adam, telephoned the couple on Friday to apologize, the government said.

"I informed the couple that the entire country is deeply shocked and saddened by what has happened. The Maldives is renowned for its warm hospitality and this incident has brought great shame upon our tourism industry and our country," Adam said.

The Tourism Ministry said in a statement that it is working with the resort to compensate the couple for the distress caused by the incident. It also promised tough action against the offenders.

The Maldives is an Indian Ocean archipelago of 350,000 people chosen by many tourists for weddings and honeymoons.

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