Modi hosts yoga session in Muslim-majority Indian region

Modi hosts yoga session in Muslim-majority Indian region

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi led a yoga session for a crowd in the Muslim-majority Kashmir region on Friday (21), in what some interpreted as a political message from the Hindu nationalist leader.

The session, which took place in Srinagar, the capital of the Indian-controlled Kashmir region, marked the 10th anniversary of International Yoga Day, a United Nations initiative promoted by Modi himself.

Although yoga is not a religious practice in itself, it has its origins in Hindu philosophy and many residents of Indian Kashmir, mostly Muslims, are indifferent to the practice.

Thousands of civil servants, teachers and students from across Kashmir attended the event, which a Srinagar resident called a cultural invasion.

“They impose yoga on our children to culturally transform the next generation and control their minds,” the resident told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

After the session, Modi asked hundreds of people, including several police officers and members of the armed forces, present on the banks of Dal Lake to include yoga as “part of their everyday lives”.

“Yoga promotes strength, good health and well-being,” the 73-year-old Prime Minister said.

In his decade as prime minister, Modi has cultivated an image as a zealous defender of the country’s majority Hindu faith. His position worries minorities, including the Muslim community of more than 200 million people.

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