India Muslim Prayer Counters Hindu Yoga

NEW DELHI – Amid increasing tensions against International Yoga Day planned next June, a leading Indian Muslim group has appealed to Muslims to offer a day of prayer on the same date to counter Hindu plans.

“We have no objection to the UN having decided to observe June 21 as International Yoga Day,” the local unit of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), a pro-Muslim political outfit founded by the Owaisi family of Hyderabad, said in a statement cited by Muslim Village.

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“However, the BJP which is in power in the country, is using this as an opportunity to promote its saffron agenda.

“Muslims of the country will not tolerate saffronization in the name of Yoga,” the AIMIM statement added.

The latest controversy about yoga has erupted after calls by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make June 21 an “International Yoga Day”.

While the government claimed it was a yogic exercise aimed at improving students’ health and concentration, Muslims slammed the government’s move, saying it is a religious program imposed on the children of minority communities.

Along with AIMIM, All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) warned to take the issue to the court to abolish the “unconstitutional” practice.

The fact that the international day of yoga would fall during the holy fasting month of Ramadan has added to Muslim concerns.

“The holy month of Ramazan would be underway when International Yoga Day would be observed,” statement, signed by the AIMIM’s city convenor Afsar Mahmood, read.

“We would be organizing Youm-e-Salat on June 21 across the state as a mark of the Muslims’ protest to impose, in the name of Yoga, practices inimical to Islam,” it added.

There are some 180 million Muslims in Hindu-majority India, making up 13 percent of the country’s population. Christians make up less than 3 percent.