VIDEO: Crowd attacks people doing yoga in Maldives stadium on International Yoga Day
An angry mob stormed the national football stadium in Maldives capital Male on Tuesday morning and disrupted an International Yoga Day 2022 program organized by the Indian High Commission. The event was attended by ambassadors, diplomats and members of the general public.
International Yoga Day: An angry mob stormed the national football stadium in Maldives capital Male on Tuesday morning and disrupted an International Yoga Day 2022 program organized by the Indian High Commission. The event was attended by ambassadors, diplomats and members of the general public. The mob attacked some of them and vandalized public property. So far six people have been detained for the violent disruption in the incident.
"The perpetrators tried to incite fear by forcibly entering, destroying property and attempting to assault the participants of the event," the police said in a statement.
Before the event, protesters waved banners proclaiming yoga was against the tenets of Islam. A report by The Edition, a Maldivian news agency, noted that a section of Islamists believe that doing yoga is tantamount to worshiping the sun, which is a heretical act according to Islamic tradition.
Yoga and Meditation Time was an initiative by the Indian Cultural Center in collaboration with the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs, Sports and Community Empowerment on the occasion of International Day of Yoga. The attendees of the yoga session were unable to continue their meditation due to the blockade by the crowd.
The protesters, carrying banners, posters and raising slogans, reportedly demanded that the Yoga Day celebrations be canceled and that the attendees immediately vacate the stadium. Some of the attendees reportedly said that they were threatened by members of the mob.
Videos shared on social media showed miscreants armed with sticks and flags charging towards people who were practicing yoga and meditation on their yoga mats. A video posted by Rajje TV shows how the protesters destroyed the venue and ransacked food stalls meant for the participants.
Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said an inquiry had been ordered into the incident. "An investigation has been launched by the police into the incident that happened at Galolu Stadium this morning. This is being considered as a matter of grave concern and those responsible will be brought before the law expeditiously."
Meanwhile, the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) issued a statement condemning the incident. Some allege that the flags used by the rioters were the same as those used in a rally organized by the PPM recently.
PPM general secretary Mohammad Tholal told the media that the flags used by the rioters were similar to those used by his party, but it was not yet clear whether these were the same ones.
Maldives Sports Minister Ahmed Mahloof alleged that stopping the event by calling yoga an anti-Islamic campaign was a political act. He said that PPM is involved in the incident.
Maldives was among 177 countries that voted to co-sponsor a UN resolution to observe June 21 as the International Day of Yoga.
The announcement of hosting an event to commemorate the International Day of Yoga was strongly criticized by citizens, who even threatened to organize the event.
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