A letter has emerged which shows Islamic Ministry instructed the police to stop the practice of yoga in Maldives, days before an event held in Male’ City to celebrate the International Day of Yoga ended in chaos after a mob stormed the national football stadium where the event was held.
The event, organized by the Indian Cultural Center and the Sports Ministry, was held on the morning of June 21, and was attended by dozens of participants, including foreign ambassadors and diplomats.
A mob of angry protestors had stormed the stadium, and threatened and assaulted some of the participants, and destroyed property.
Jamiyyath Salaf's Chief Marketing Officer Ali Rameez and Al-Sheikh Zamzam Farish posted a letter on Twitter on Saturday night, signed by Islamic Ministry’s Senior Executive Director Hisham Ahmed and addressed to Commissioner of Police Mohamed Hameed, stating that yoga, despite its widespread use for meditation, exercise and healing, was not permissible for Muslims, due to its use in Hindu worship.
The letter referred to fatwas released by Egyptian Fatwa Council in 2004, the Malaysian Fatwa Council in 2008, stating that yoga was used in Hindu worship and therefore affected the beliefs of Muslims.
“Given that it is against Islamic Sharia and is prohibited under the Protection of Religious Unity Act, we instruct you to take necessary measures to identify the people who engage in this and take necessary action in order to uphold Islamic Sharia and the laws and regulations of Maldives,” reads the letter.
The police had not followed the instructions to stop the event.
Police have arrested 19 suspects in connection to the mob attack on the event, including local Islamic scholars Al-Sheikh Adam Nishan and Al-Sheikh Mohamed Fazloon.