Imams in Kirkuk want mosques to reopen

Kirkuk, a gathering of preachers and mosques attendees to reopen the mosques during Ramadan, April 23, 2020

Goran Baban- Kirkuk

A number of imams and mosque attendees, in a protest, demanded the reopening of the mosques during the month of Ramadan, claiming they will adhere to medical instructions to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

On Thursday, April 23, several Imams and worshipers gathered in front of Kirkuk health directorate and submitted their request to the respective authority to reopen the mosques, that have been closed due to the outbreaks of coronavirus.

Soran Kirkuki, an Imam, who participated in the gathering, said, “we believe the mosques have been targeted and have purposely been excluded from those restrictions that are removed. Otherwise, why the clinics are opened, that are crowded, but the houses of god are closed?”

He said that they will fully comply with the medical instructions with the reopening of the mosques and stated, “I think the government prioritize the reopening of those places that are commercially beneficial and has neglected such an important group of people of the society, who are the worshipers.”

As a part of the preventative measures taken against the outbreaks of coronavirus, the mosques, temples, and churches have been closed by the federal and the regional governments.

Mustafa Saidai, 28, who was a participant of the gathering, stated, “if they do not address our request, we will put pressures on the imams to reopen the mosques because we are in Ramadan and cannot exclude the mosques from this month.”

“We do not enjoy Ramadan without mosques and without keeping the religion activities alive… we can pray god to remove the curse of corona on us,” Saidai said.

The Sunni Wakf in Kirkuk in a statement has submitted a request to the health directorate to reopen the mosques on conditions including opening the mosques during prayers, prohibiting using the toilets of the mosques and hand shaking, and preventing women, children, and people with chronic diseases from visiting the mosques.

Sabah Namiq, head of public health department in the Kirkuk’s health directorate, stated, “we fear any gatherings, it is not opposing the mosques and the holy places, we will submit the demands of them to the Crisis Cell to make a new decision on it.”

He also explained that they cannot claim the spread of coronavirus is control in Kirkuk, “but still the threats exist, and that is the reason for the prohibition of public gathering.”

The request to reopen the mosques comes at a time when the Crisis Cell in Kirkuk lift the curfew from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., excluding Friday and Saturday, when full curfew is enforced.

31 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Kirkuk. 24 of them have recovered, 2 died, and 5 active cases remain.

The nationwide confirmed cases in Iraq as of now is 1763, among which 1224 patients have recovered, and 86 died.  The rest are active cases.

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