Some attacked fences blocking off the courtyard of the Imam Reza shrine while clerics protested and criticized the government for closing the shrines.
VOA News On Monday, state TV said authorities closed the Masoume shrine, a major pilgrimage site in the city of Qom, the epicenter of Iran’s outbreak. Authorities were already restricting access and barring pilgrims from kissing, touching, and licking the shrine, but that didn’t stop people from doing it.
Hardline Iranians visit the shrine in Qom 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The shrines draw Shiite pilgrims from all over, likely contributing to the virus’ regional spread.
A member of the Assembly of Experts, which has the power to appoint or dismiss Iran’s supreme leader, died from the COVID-19 illness caused by the virus.
Ayatollah Hashem Bathaei, 78, is the latest of several Iranian officials to have died. Cabinet ministers, members of parliament, Revolutionary Guard members and Health Ministry officials have caught the virus, compounding fears about Iran’s response to the pandemic.
Iran reported another 129 fatalities from the new coronavirus on Monday, the largest one-day rise in deaths since it began battling the Middle East’s worst outbreak, which has claimed more than 850 lives and infected a number of senior officials in the country.