Protesters displayed placards before the Yoga Day event
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.
On the occasion of the International Day of Yoga, the Indian Cultural Centre collaborated with the Union Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Community Empowerment to host a yoga and meditation hour. Due to the mob’s disruption, attendees of the yoga practice were unable to finish their meditation.
The demonstrators, who were holding banners, posters, and shouting slogans, are said to have asked that the Yoga Day celebrations be canceled and that all participants leave the stadium immediately. Members of the mob reportedly threatened several of the attendees.
Moreover, when the mob barged in, several diplomats, government officials, and ministers from the Maldives government were also there.
Police intervened before the situation intensified into a physical altercation by releasing tear gas canisters into the field where the unruly mob was harassing the attendees.
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih of the Maldives has requested an investigation into the incident.
“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.— Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (@ibusolih) June 21, 2022
This is being treated as a matter of serious concern and those responsible will be swiftly brought before the law.
The Maldives was among the 177 nations that voted in favor of co-sponsoring the UN resolution to commemorate June 21 as International Yoga Day.
The announcement of hosting an event to commemorate the International Day of Yoga was met with severe criticism by citizens, who had even threatened against holding the event.
Yoga is a burning issue in the Maldives for orthodox Muslims, who have polarised opinions regarding the spiritual discipline, which has benefitted millions across the globe.