Protesters in Muslim-majority country claim yoga is against tenets of Islam
A group of protesters disrupted a event organised by the Indian high commission in the Maldivas to celebrate International Day of Yoga.
Armed with flags and sticks, the crowd of fundamentalists stormed the Galolhu National Stadium, where over 150 pessoas, including diplomats and officials, had gathered to observe the eighth annual event.
Maldives is among at 177 countries that voted in 2014 in favour of a UN resolution to commemorate 21 June as the International Day of Yoga.
Demonstrators attacked the participants and vandalised the property, local broadcaster RaajjeTV reported.
Earlier in the day, protesters in the Muslim-majority country of nearly half a million people brandished placards proclaiming that yoga was ‘against the tenets of Islam’.
Maldivian minister of youth and sports Ahmed Mahloof and Indian high commissioner Munu Mahawar were also in attendance when the protesters broke in.
Following the vandalism, local police resorted to anti-riot measures and used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the crowd.
Six people involved in the incident have been arrested so far, superintendent of police Fathmath Nashwa said.
Maldivian president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said a police investigation has been launched into the incident.
“This is being treated as a matter of serious concern and those responsible will be swiftly brought before the law,”Ele tuitou.
The Maldivian government has accused the opposition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) of being involved in the attack.
“Maldives police are investigating the incident and key individuals involved are under police custody,” Ali Nazeer, minister of state for home affairs told WION.
“We believe that this act of violence is aimed at achieving a political end. And the involvement of political opposition (PPM) in this is worrying (sic)”.
The protest comes amid former president and PPM chief Abdulla Yameen’s efforts to revive the “Índia Out” movement, which has been banned by the government.
The pro-China leader has been spearheading the movement for a year over unproven claims that New Delhi’s military posted in the archipelago off the coast of Sri Lanka was a threat to Maldives’s sovereignty.
“It’s imperative that we get the Indian military out before the end of this year. We certainly don’t like to play second fiddle here in our own country,” Mr Yameen had said in March.