Nude Western foreigners thought by locals to be responsible for killer earthquake.
Four young tourists of European and Canadian descent posed nude for photos on Malaysia’s highest peak, Mount Kinabalu. Their case made news right away when, after their arrest, certain local officials had said the Westerners had caused a deadly earthquake by stripping atop the mountain, which many from the region believed to be the “revered place of the dead.” One of them was Sabah state Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who reported that a special ritual will be held to “appease the mountain spirit.” The group of hikers claim that they were challenging each other to weather the cold.
Perceived disrespect and superstition spelled tough sentence for the four.
The four young adults, 24 year-old British Eleanor Hawkins, 23 year-old Dutch Dylan Snel, and 23 and 22 year-old Canadian brother and sister Lindsey and Danielle Peterson joined a hiking party and split off. They then proceeded to take off their clothes while ignoring pleas from the guide, with the women remaining topless while the men stripped completely nude. They then went on to snap photographs. The guide reported the apparent sacrilege, which immediately drew the locals’ ire. Their anger only escalated after a magnitude 6.0 earthquake killed 18 people on that same mountain. Social media exploded with Malaysian scorn for the tourists, deeming them responsible for the seismic tragedy. Many locals’ belief at the time was that the group’s nude posing angered spirits dwelling on the mountain. The four youths who were arrested pleaded guilty to committing an “obscene act in a public place,” were fined 5,000 ringgit ($1,333) each, and sentenced to jail. They served three days and are now to be deported.
Six other members of the youths’ party also sought by police in connection.
There had been six more hikers who were also wanted by police due to their involvement in the incident, but they are believed to have left the country. One member of the party who was thought to have stripped naked with them is Emil Kaminski. He uploaded a video online, in which he makes fun of the accusation that they were to blame for the earthquake, dismissing such talk as backwards and unscientific and Malaysian authorities as stupid.
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