Police in the Maldives have detained a young, husky and possibly cursed suspect for potentially rigging the vote in a critical election. So far, a police interrogation has revealed only one thing: The suspect is a hard nut to crack.
That's because the perp is a coconut.
Minivan News, a Maldives newspaper, reports a young coconut was taken into custody Tuesday after police received reports that the suspicious fruit was loitering near the Guraidhoo Island School, a polling station to be used in the Sept. 7 presidential election.
Islanders fear the coconut may have been associated with black magic or been imbued with a spell to influence the election.
“The four-inch coconut had a 'Sura' [Quranic verse] written in Arabic and was lying on the ground near the school, easy for the public to see,” a source with knowledge of the incident told Minivan News. Authorities brought in a "ruqyah," or benevolent magician, who determined the coconut was fake and therefore posed no threat.
Black magic and sorcery are often accused of having undue influence on the island nation. In July, school administrators refused to let elections officials place a ballot box in the building, fearing it would attract black magic and make students ill. CNM News reports that the school assented only after the government agreed to be responsible for anyone who was "struck by a spell or [fell] ill."
In 2012, one of the island's religious leaders, Jamiyyathul Salaf, petitioned politicians to make sorcery and black magic illegal.
The heightened fears and rhetoric are perhaps more understandable, given what's at stake in the election. As The Guardian notes, former President Mohammed Nasheed was forced out of office in 2012 by what he has termed a coup. Nasheed is now facing off against three other candidates, one of whom, Abdullah Yameen, is a half-brother of the island nation's former dictator, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ran the country for 30 years until 2008.