Mob storms India-backed yoga event in the Maldives
A yoga event organized by the Indian government in Male was disrupted on Tuesday with pro-Jehadi protestors claiming it is against the Islamic tenets. Maldives President Mohamed Solih termed it as “serious” and said, “those responsible will be swiftly brought before the law.” Reports from Male said an irate group stormed into the national football stadium in Male and disrupted the yoga event organized by the Indian High Commission. More than 150 people including several diplomats, government officials, and ministers from the Maldives government were also present at the event when the mob barged in.
Dramatic visuals from Maldives as group of extremists disrupt Yoga Day celebrations organised in capital Male pic.twitter.com/es9q3y5g2o
— Sidhant Sibal (@sidhant) June 21, 2022
The Police had to resort to firing tear gas shells to control the situation. The programme later continued. Before the event, the protesters brandished placards proclaiming yoga was against the tenets of Islam. A report from a Maldivian news agency, The Edition, mentioned that a section of Islamists believes performing yoga is akin to worshiping the Sun, a heretic act according to Islamic tradition.
The yoga and meditation hour was an initiative by the Indian Cultural Centre (ICCR) in association with the Union Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Community Empowerment on the occasion of the International Day of Yoga.
The agitators carrying banners, placards, and shouting slogans reportedly demanded that the Yoga Day celebrations are called off and the attendees vacate the stadium immediately. Some attendees reportedly said they were threatened by members of the mob.
Videos shared on social media showed miscreants armed with sticks and flags charging toward people who were practicing yoga and meditation on their yoga mats. A video posted by Raajje TV showed how the protesters destroyed the venue and trashed food stalls meant for the participants.
President Solih said an inquiry into the incident was ordered. “An investigation has been launched by @PoliceMv into the incident that happened this morning at Galolhu stadium. This is being treated as a matter of serious concern and those responsible will be swiftly brought before the law,” Solih tweeted.
An investigation has been launched by @PoliceMv into the incident that happened this morning at Galolhu stadium.
This is being treated as a matter of serious concern and those responsible will be swiftly brought before the law.
— Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (@ibusolih) June 21, 2022
In a tweet later on Tuesday, the Maldives police sought citizens’ assistance, by way of any evidence or information pertaining to the incident. Prior to the event, authorities noticed messages on social media deriding the ‘Yoga Day’ event. The messages claimed yoga was a Hindu mode of worship, urging people of the Islamic country to stay away from the practice.
The Maldives was among the 177 nations that voted in favour of co-sponsoring the UN resolution to commemorate June 21 as the International Day of Yoga.
The ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) “unequivocally condemned” the “violent attack”. “These types of egregious and violent acts have no place in a peaceful democratic society such as ours,” the party said in a statement, which noted that the Maldives has been marking ‘World Yoga Day’ since 2015.
The attack on participants at Tuesday’s event comes amid a persisting ‘India Out’ campaign in the Maldives, led by former President Abdulla Yameen and his supporters.
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