Maldives: Mob storms International Yoga Day event; probe ordered
The Maldivian government has ordered an investigation after an angry mob disrupted an International Yoga Day event organized by Indian Cultural Centre at a stadium in the capital Male and threatened the attendees. The police were reportedly compelled to use tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the crowd. President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih tweeted the Maldives Police has initiated an investigation into the incident.
Why does this story matter?
Yoga is a contentious subject among Islamic scholars, with some believing the practice is similar to "worshipping the Sun," which is reportedly not allowed in Islam. Notably, the Maldives is a predominantly Muslim nation. The police have yet to reveal the motive for the attack. India's Ministry of External Affairs and the Indian High Commission in Male have not yet responded to the incident.
Solih's statement over the incident
"An investigation has been launched by [the Maldives Police] into the incident that happened this morning at Galolhu Stadium. This is being treated as a matter of serious concern...those responsible will be swiftly brought before the law," Solih tweeted. On Tuesday, the Maldivian Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Community Empowerment partnered with the Indian Cultural Centre to host a yoga session at Galolhu Stadium.
Videos shows armed mob attacking the event
Videos on social media showed miscreants armed with flags and sticks charging toward those performing yoga and meditation at the stadium. The videos also showed some miscreants brandishing flagpoles at the participants as cops tried to restrain them. It wasn't immediately clear who the attackers were, but BNN Newsroom described them as an "extremist group." Six arrests have been made so far, said reports.
Here's a video of the incident
Identity of protesters unknown, links with PPM not clear
It's unclear whether the protesters are linked to the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) as well as its chief, Abdullah Yameen, a former president widely regarded as a Chinese stooge. To note, Yameen was the mastermind behind the "India Out" campaign, which many believe was launched with the assistance of Islamists in an effort to sever ties between the Maldives and India.
Male City Council previously denied permission for event
Earlier, the Male City Council denied a request for organizing the yoga event at the Rasfannu artificial beach, raising challenges for the organizers. The city council stated the "public" was opposed to the event taking place there. Yoga is a controversial issue among orthodox Muslims in the Maldives, who hold opposing views on the spiritual discipline that has benefited millions around the world.
MDP proposed legislation to criminalize anti-India protests as anti-national
Interestingly, the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) previously proposed legislation to consider anti-India protests as an "anti-national offense", concluding that India has always stood to help the Maldives whenever the island nation has faced a crisis and is also critical to its food security.