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Mosques reopen in Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem amid virus woes

June 01, 2020 06:01 AM

COURTESY HT JUNE 1

Mosques reopen in Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem amid virus woes

Palestinians perform the dawn prayer inside the al-Aqsa mosque compound, in Jerusalem's Old City. AFP
Associated Press

letters@hindustantimes.com

DUBAI : Tens of thousands of mosques across Saudi Arabia reopened on Sunday for the first time in more than two months, with worshippers ordered to follow strict guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

While, as Islam’s holiest site in Mecca remained closed to the public, the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the holiest site outside of Saudi Arabia, reopened for prayers for the first time since it was closed in mid-March.

With little regards for social distancing, throngs waited outside the holy site’s gates before it opened early on Sunday, with many wearing surgical masks. As they were allowed to enter, the faithful stopped to have their temperature measured.

Jews also resumed their pilgrimages on Sunday to the hilltop compound they revere as the Temple Mount, site of the two Jewish biblical temples.

In Saudi Arabia, the government prepared for the reopening of around 90,000 mosques after sanitising prayer rugs, washrooms and shelves holding copies of the Quran.

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs said millions of text messages were sent to people in multiple languages to inform them about the new rules for public prayer, which include keeping a 2m distance between people during prayer, wearing face masks at all times and abstaining from greeting one another with handshakes or hugs.

Children under 15 years-old were not being allowed inside mosques. The elderly and those with chronic conditions were being told to pray at home. People are also being advised to perform the mandatory ablution at home

 
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