Crowds Storm International Yoga Day Event in the Maldives, Dramatic Visuals Emerge

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An unruly crowd disrupted an International Yoga Day event taking place in the Maldives on Tuesday. Dramatic visuals emerged from a stadium in the capital Male’ where people perform yoga asanas on exercise mats as a crowd burst in, violently swinging flagpoles and creating chaos.

The police had to resort to the use of tear gas and pepper spray to contain the crowd. The event was organized by the Indian High Commission in the Maldives and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment and the UN, Maldives. About 150 people had attended the event, which included dignitaries like the Maldivian Minister of Youth and Sports, the Indian High Commissioner, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Maldives, numerous high commissioners and the Resident Coordinator of the Nations United.

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The mob attacked the participants and vandalized the property. Protesters had previously displayed signs claiming yoga was a practice contrary to the tenets of Islam, it was reported. Police arrested six people following the row, Police Superintendent Fathmath Nashwa told Reuters.

Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih took to Twitter to confirm that a police investigation had begun and the perpetrators would be swiftly brought to justice.

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“This is being treated as a matter of grave concern and those responsible will be swiftly brought to justice,” tweeted Solih, the president of the island nation of half a million people. Islam is the state religion of the Maldives.

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(With agency contributions)

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