Youth Ministry: Was not instructed against holding yoga event by any authority

Youth Minister Ahmed Mahloof. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Youth Ministry, on Sunday, has stated that they were not instructed by the Islamic Ministry nor any other government authorities against holding the event at national football stadium to mark the International Day of Yoga citing the activity to be non-permissible for Muslims, due to its use in Hindu worship.

The event, organized by the Indian Cultural Center and the Youth Ministry 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.

Nevertheless, Youth Ministry said that they were not instructed against marking the International Day of Yoga by the Islamic Ministry nor any other government authority. They also gave assurance that a violation of the Maldivian Constitutions and its bylaws would not be committed by the Ministry.

Stressing that some issues arise due to conflicts between the views of scholars – Youth Ministry underscored the importance of clear guidance on the matters by relevant authorities as per the stipulated regulations.

Youth Ministry said that similar to previous years, International Day of Yoga was marked this year by the Ministry in collaboration with High Commission of India in Maldives. They stressed that the event has been held every year since 2014.

The Ministry said that they have been participating in the event since 2014 as yoga is included amongst sports and exercise – in the same manner that sports ministries of other nations partake in events related to sports and exercise.

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.

The mob attack is being investigated as serious crime.