Islamic clerics in Pakistani are refusing to shut down mosques and prayer services where thousands are often in attendance. And just like in France and Germany, police are unable/unwilling to stop them.
DW As Islamic clerics refuse to stop allowing religious congregations, Prime Minister Imran Khan continues to downplay the coronavirus threat to his country. Could this be a “recipe for disaster” for Pakistan? (One can only hope)
Khan has repeatedly refused to interfere in the issue of shutting mosques or even order a country-wide lockdown, citing the economic damage that could be unleashed. “Religion is always the weakest link of the state institutions. The government fears the reaction from the clergy,” said Amir Rana, director for the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies.
Last week, Pakistani President Arif Alvi and provincial governors held a meeting with Sunni and Shiite clerics to convince them to close mosques for congregational prayers across the country amid rapidly increasing COVID-19 cases in the country.
The clerics, however, rejected the request. “We can in no way close mosques … It is not possible in any circumstances in an Islamic country,” said Muneeb-bur-Rehman, a cleric who attended the meeting.
Earlier in March, when coronavirus cases in Pakistan were relatively lower, the federal government allowed Shiite pilgrims from Iran to return to the country through Baluchistan province.
The pilgrims were not properly quarantined, which resulted in a spike of infections. Also, the government allowed thousands of Sunni worshippers to go ahead with the “Tablighi Jamaat” congregation in Pubjab province. Many of the new COVID-19 cases have emerged from that mass gathering.
Clerics’ defiance: Many Pakistanis have refused to offer their prayers inside their homes, saying that religion is more important than anything else.
“I offered prayers in the mosque on Friday. More than 300 people were in attendance and it looked like a routine Friday prayer,” Muhammad Ashraf, a kiosk-owner in Islamabad, told DW. “The mosque is a safe place. I don’t fear coronavirus,” Ashraf said, adding that he intended to attend the next Friday prayer as well.
“The pandemic is spreading due to our sins and because we are not following the teachings of Islam,” Ejaz Ashrafi, a senior cleric belonging to the Tehreek-i-Labaik (TLP) Islamist party, told DW.
Pakistani policemen & soldiers are unable to stop a violent Islamic mob from attending Friday prayers at their mosque.
These are the same jihadists that are infiltrating India, America, Europe, Canada, etc.
It is time we all put our countries citizens FIRST & close the borders! pic.twitter.com/Wl6B72LpnF
— Amy Mek (@AmyMek) April 4, 2020