Yoga Day event under attack in Maldives

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• Attack on people doing yoga
• Diplomats and senior government officials were attacked when they entered the Galolhu stadium.
International Yoga Day has been celebrated in the Maldives since 2016.
• Those who were trying to do yoga were attacked by members of the opposition, PPM and Salaf.

June 21 is celebrated as the International Yoga Day and is celebrated annually all over the world.

Initially, the event was supposed to be held at Rasfaanu but following complaints from the public, Male City Council denied the permit and so it was relocated to Galolhu National Statium.

Its been reported that religious organization ‘Ilmuveringe Gulhun’ comprising of religious scholars sent a letter to Islamic Ministry expressing their concerns regarding the celebration of International Yoga Day in the Maldives.

The letter read that yoga was a threat to Islam and the Maldivian constitution in the name of exercise. It was also requested from the Ministry that they stop the event.

The organization further urged the Islamic Ministry to declare participating in acts of other religions to be banned on a state level.

#No2Yoga, a religious movement or a Political stunt?
A day before the event took place, a hashtag surfaced in twitter— #No2Yoga. This was created by JAMIYYATH SALAF who calls themselves as a Non-governmental organization (NGO), also the main perpetrators behind the terror launched in the ‘Yoga Day’ event held today.

Radical Extremists at peak in Maldives:
The event started off at 6:30 am in the morning when a group of people entered the stadium and started ransacking the stadium as people were doing yoga.

According to the videos, the people who entered the area broke through the gate of the Galolhu Stadium, threw Maldivian flags at the stadium, and warned those who were there.

Those who attended the scene include members of the opposition PPM and Salaf organization.

The Indian High Commissioner to the Maldives, the High Commissioner of Bangladesh to the Maldives, senior government officials, Maldivians of all ages and the general public were also present at the attack.

Police stationed in the area tried to control the situation by using tear gas.

Commenting on the attack, Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment Ahmed Mahloof said this was an act of political dissent by a group of people who took undue advantage of the opposition’s campaign against India.

Salaf and ppm leaders have also been active in today’s unrest, he said.

PPM provided the flags?
According to a news article published by Mihaaru, the flags used by the attackers in the stadium were provided by PPM. The photos in the article shows the official office of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) distributing the flags in the early hours. The party has not yet officially announced whether it had planned a rally or meeting against the yoga event.

Maldivian Reacts:
President Ibu in a tweet said that an investigation has been launched and the matter will be looked into seriously.

The public’s reaction to the entire scene unfolding has been quite distasteful.

While some people can be seen justifying the action by calling it non-Islamic or Shirk.

A police media official said that six Maldivian men were taken into custody during the protest held at the National Stadium. The case is under investigation as a serious one, said a police media official.

Is this how the religious extremists will pave their paths in Maldives, is this act of terror in the name of religion acceptable? Is Maldives ready to set foot in the wrong side of history again?