PPM condemns storming of yoga day event; probing whether flags were lent

Group that stormed Galolhu National Stadium on Tuesday morning, obstructing activities underway at the stadium to mark the International Day of Yoga hold up flags containing verses from Shahada.

Opposition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has condemned the storming of Galolhu National Stadium on Tuesday morning by a group of people, obstructing activities underway at the stadium to mark the International Day of Yoga.

The ‘Yoga Day’ event was hosted by Youth Ministry in collaboration with Indian Cultural Centre.

Ambassador of India to the Maldives Munu Mahawar, diplomats and senior officials from the Maldivian government alongside members of the general public were doing yoga at Galolhu National Stadium when the premise was stormed.

The group which stormed the stadium were carrying flags containing verses from the Shahada. They threatened, attacked the participants and vandalized the property.

Many have accused that the flags which rioters were used this morning were the same flags used in PPM’s recent ‘My prophet’ rally. A photo showing the flags being allegedly carried out the PPM’s office had gone viral on social media as well.

Commenting on the matter, PPM’s Secretary-General Mohamed Tholal told Sun that the flags were very similar to the ones PPM had used. However, he said that he cannot confirm whether the flags were lent by the party at the moment.

“It is possible that they are our flags. I do not know to say for sure whether we lent the flags,” he had said.

Speaking further, Tholal stressed that the storming had not been orchestrated by PPM, adding they do not support violence.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih also condemned the act in a tweet. In this regard, he said that Maldives Police Service has launched an investigation into the incident which is being treated as a matter of serious concern.

He stressed that those responsible will be swiftly brought before the law.

Expressing concern over the incident – Youth Minister Ahmed Mahloof said that the event was obstructed for political reasons.

In this regard, Minister Mahloof said that ‘Yoga Day’ has been celebrated in the Maldives since 2014 – with major public events being held to mark the day during Yameen’s administration as well. He added that there is no reason for something that was not ‘haram’ back then to become ‘haram’ now. He also stressed that yoga was not a religious activity.

He also alleged the storming of the event was backed by senior officials from Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Jamiyyath Salaf were behind the violence which ensued.

Jamiyyath Salaf also refuted the allegations they had any role in it.

Minister Mahloof said that ‘Yoga Day’ event was obstructed in the name of religion for political reasons.  He described today’s events as a lowly act which unfolded in front of senior officials from foreign countries.

Religious organization ‘Ilmuveringe Gulhun’ comprising of religious scholars sent a letter to Islamic Ministry on Monday expressing their concerns regarding the celebration of International Yoga Day in the Maldives, as a practice closely associated with Hindu religion.

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.

‘Yoga Day’ event was initially supposed to be held at Rasfannu area. However, Male’ City Council decided to cancel the permit issued to hold the event at Rasfannu following complaints from the public.