The ‘India Out’ campaign has taken a new shape as protestors disrupt Yoga Day celebrations in Maldives.
At Tuesday’s event, Indian High Commissioner Munu Mahawar, Malé-based UN diplomats and officials of the host government participated along with members of the general public. According to media reports, the yoga event resumed after police removed the rioters, who carried flags with Arabic inscriptions from Islamic Shahada, a ‘testimony’ that “there is no deity but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God’. The disrupters also reportedly shouted slogans that yoga was identified with Hinduism, and therefore, was non-Islamic/anti-Islamic.
The yoga event resumed after police removed the rioters, who carried flags with Arabic inscriptions from Islamic Shahada, a ‘testimony’ that “there is no deity but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God’.
Yet, it’s the independent Election Commission’s threat to penalise political parties found guilty in the matter that has put some of them on the defensive—or, so it seems. Opposition PNC leader, Abdul Raheem Abdulla ‘Adhurey’, in a news conference, condemned the attack and claimed that it was staged by the government and the police, to cast the blame on their PPM coalition partner. PPM’s Secretary-General Mohamed Tholal, however, agreed that the rioters’ flags were similar to the ones used by the party in a recent rally, and they would probe the matter. It is another matter that the yoga event had to be shifted to Galolhu National Stadium at the last minute after the PPM-controlled Male Municipal Council withdrew the permission granted for the use of another venue, Rasfannu, supposedly on public complaints. The police initially announced the arrest of six persons involved in Tuesday’s incidents. They have since arrested four others, including former PPM parliamentarian Mohamed Ismail and religious scholar Al-Sheikh Fazloon bin Mohamed. They all were also produced before a court and reprimanded. While probing multiple angles to the yoga incident, the police have also begun investigations into death threats sent to religious scholar Sheikh Ahmed Sameer, on Facebook, after he had expressed himself against yoga. The police have also launched an internal review to assess their own response even as social media users have alleged another major ‘intelligence failure’ after last year’s 6 May bomb attack on Parliament Speaker and former President, Mohammed Nasheed. The nation’s Police Chief, Commissioner Mohamed Hameed tweeted ‘concern’ over the policing at the yoga event and promised to ‘improve operations’.
The Islamic Ministry under the care of Adhaalath Party, appealed to the people ‘not to fall victim to the insincere activities held for political benefit under the ruse of defending Islam and Prophet Mohamed’.
The list includes ‘damaging or altering a national flag or national symbol of a foreign country, destroying or calling for the destruction of foreign institutions, harming or calling for harm against a foreigner to harass them based on their nationality, or demanding a foreigner to leave Maldives based on their nationality’. As may be recalled, the police had seized longish banners hung from the roof of Yameen’s home and also the PPM party office that misrepresented the Indian national flag, as if to claim immunity but at the same time, hurt Indian sentiments. In public appearances in the previous week, Yameen seemingly shifted gears to claim that he was ‘not anti-India, but pro-Maldives’, and was only opposed to the presence of Indian military personnel in the country. In a media interview, he also said that the Government of India did not withdraw its military personnel despite his government’s requests. In a sweeping allegation, he claimed that Hindutva organisations were running PR campaigns in the UK, Canada, Australia, and especially in the US, to gloss over ‘inhumane actions’, and said—without a shred of evidence that a ‘Muslim genocide’ was possible in India. Incidentally, the current discourses could have provided a distraction for the ruling MDP, which seems to be heading for a split at every turn. The latest in the series is the MDP parliamentary group’s majority decision to move a resolution in the House to remove Prosecutor-General Hussain Shameem, from the party faction identified with Speaker Nasheed. This is a major next step for President Solih to replace/displace Nasheed’s supporters from key positions in government and party. Of the 65 MDP parliamentarians in the 87-member Parliament, 18 had voted for Nasheed camp’s plan to defy the three-line party whip to vote out PG Shaheem. Team Solih has since claimed to have talked some of them out of the plan. Both sides are bracing for the mid-August party congress, to be followed in September by the trial court decision in one of the two pending money-laundering cases against Yameen, which has the potential to disqualify him from contesting next year’s presidential poll.
The police had seized longish banners hung from the roof of Yameen’s home and also the PPM party office that misrepresented the Indian national flag, as if to claim immunity but at the same time, hurt Indian sentiments.
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N. Sathiya Moorthy is a policy analyst and commentatorRead More +