Islamic Ministry: Letter sent to Police unrelated to yoga event

Islamic Minister Dr. Ahmed Zahir Ali speaks at the launch of "Dharus Portal. (Photo/Islamic Ministry)

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs has stated that the letter circulated sent by the ministry to Maldives Police Service was not in connection to the event held in Male’ City to mark international yoga day.

In a statement released by the ministry addressing the matter, it noted that the fatwa referred to in the letter was in procedural violation.

The fatwas referred to were released by the Egyptian Fatwa Council in 2004, and 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 to uphold Islamic Sharia and the laws and regulations of Maldives,” reads the letter.

The letter dated June 15 was signed by the Islamic Ministry’s Senior Executive Director Hisham Ahmed and addressed to Commissioner of Police Mohamed Hameed. It was sent days ahead of the Yoga Day event held on June 21 which ended in chaos after a mob stormed the national football stadium where the event was held.

The Ministry’s statement further noted that once a detailed fatwa regarding practicing yoga has been obtained from the Fatwa Council of Maldives, it will be published.

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 stormed the stadium, threatened and assaulted some of the participants, and destroyed property.

The letter in question was posted on Twitter by Jamiyyath Salaf's Chief Marketing Officer Ali Rameez and Al-Sheikh Zamzam Farish a few days after this.

Meanwhile, the Youth Ministry has said that they did not receive any instructions from the Islamic Ministry or any other government body to stop the event on the basis that activity was not permissible for Muslims.