A "young" coconut has been detained by Maldivian police after suspicions were raised that it was to play a part in vote-rigging in a key presidential election.
Police were called to a school on the Guraidhoo Island at 7:05am on 3 September after pupils came across the four-inch coconut, inscribed with a Sura (Qur'anic verse) written in Arabic. The school, which is to be used as a polling station in forthcoming presidential elections, suspected that the coconut was an attempted use of 'fanditha’ (black magic) to influence Guraidhoo voters.
Police took the coconut into their possession and summoned a white magic practitioner to ascertain whether it had been cursed. Island Council Vice President Abdul Latheef Ahmed confirmed to local media that it was nothing more than a prank. A local Guraidhoo Islander told Minivan News: "It was not really ‘fanditha’ (black magic) on the coconut. If it was fanditha, there would have been Arabic letters and numbers written, not a Sura."
While the official state religion of the Maldives is Sunni Islam, many rural communities continue to hold traditional beliefs concerning the practice of magic and curses. It is believed that the detained coconut was little more than a prank, attempting to draw islander's attentions to the illegitimacy of the ancient practice rather than a sinister attempt to influence voting.
While the police have made no arrests and aren't carrying out further investigations as to the source of the inscribed coconut, the number of officers stationed at the school's polling station is to be increased from four to nine. In July of this year parents complained over the polling station location, claiming that vote-rigging black magic of a local witch had affected the health of pupils in a previous election. The national election commission has said it will accept responsibility "if anyone falls under a spell or comes down ill".
The elections are due to be held later this month.