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Muslims Opt out of International Yoga Day as Modi Drives India to Marathon Shibir

SuryathonMuslims in India have stayed away from Yoga citing its Hindu roots as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was determined to make the International Yoga Day on Sunday, June 21 a grand success as all government offices and public parks have turned into Yoga camps.

The idea of an international day devoted to yoga came from Modi at the United Nations General Assembly last fall that was endorsed by 175 countries. Taking lead, India wants to showcase its immense population observing the day to keep up the merits of Yoga that is seen as preventive medicinal measure in a country of 1.2 billion population.

Even army and para-military forces have been strictly instructed to take part in the nationa-wide yoga day whether they are in the base camps or aboard an aircraft. Several yoga practioners have been flown abroad to nearly 191 countries to impart training session for Yoga enthusiasts.

In New York’s prime area Times Square, Bangalore-based yoga guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will demonstrate the yoga asanas to people which will be live telecast via satellite. Similar camps have been scheduled acros the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities in the US.

New Delhi will host about 35,000 people in a an half-an-hour Yoga camp at Rajpath, where usually the Republic Day parade is held or impromptu demonstrations take place. Modi is expected to address the gathering but he may not practice yoga along with other ministers and officials, said officials.

On the sidelines, the crew from the Guinness Book of World Records will be present to record the event as the largest yoga demonstration. Not shying away, famous athletes and film celebrities too will be present for the record event on Sunday.

Foreign Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj described yoga as “the best soft power India has, to bring the world on the path of peace” to mitigate violence seen all around us.

Im the midst of the preparations, one section that is keeping away from the brouhaha is the Muslim community, which is second largest religious community in India after Hindus. Their argument is Surya Namskar or salute to Sun violates their belief that apart from God or Allah, nobody is worth the stature to be worshipped.

Further as some asanas require chanting of OM, it is objectionable for Muslims, said Islamic organisations. “Chanting ‘Om, hari om’ — these are the words of Hinduism. Muslims cannot say these words,” said Abdul Rahim Qureshi, general secretary of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board.

“This government is trying to impose Hindu culture and Hindu forms of worship on non-Hindus,” Qureshi added. “This is not allowed by the constitution.”

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