Mosques disregard calls to halt Friday prayers

Thorough effort: A police officer spraying disinfectant at Baiturrahman Grand Mosque in Banda Aceh. — AFP

A NUMBER of mosques in Jakarta have disregarded appeals by Governor Anies Baswedan to cancel Friday prayers for two weeks aimed at curbing the spread of the deadly coronavirus that has so far killed at least 17 people in the capital.

Indonesia has recorded a total of 32 deaths from Covid-19, with the total number of infections at 369 as of yesterday.

The world’s fourth-most populous country announced its first two cases on March 2.

The government has been widely criticised for not doing enough tests, having carried out only 1,592 of them as of Thursday.

In comparison, South Korea has carried out over 290,000 tests.

Two of four mosques in South Jakarta visited by The Straits Times at noon yesterday, including Al-Azhar Great Mosque,- were operating as before.

But Al-Azhar, the second-largest mosque in the capital, was only getting about half its usual crowd, said one of its security officers.

It was full house at the Nurul Yaqin Mosque in Kebalen Road, though, likely due to the closure of the nearby Jami’ Nurul Hidayah Mosque, which had complied with the governor’s appeal.

Triadi, a hotel security officer who was on his way to Friday prayers at Nurul Yaqin Mosque, said: “Life and death is in God’s hands.”Another worshipper, 15-year-old Arif Nazib Arifin, said: “Muslims should not be afraid of the coronavirus and going to a mosque. If we get infected (at a mosque) and die, we die nobly.”

Anies announced on Thursday that Jakarta residents should not hold any gatherings at places of worship, meaning Muslims should not hold Friday prayers, Christians should not hold Sunday masses and people should not engage in any activities that would involve congregating for religious worship.

Anies’ stance is in line with the various social distancing measures that President Joko Widodo has taken.

“We can no longer say that the risk of infection is only at one, two, three, four or five areas (within Jakarta). It’s widespread and can be anywhere.

“Jakarta is an epicentre and the rate of (infection) growth is among the highest,” Anies told a media briefing on Thursday.

He said at present, cancelling Friday prayers was an appeal, a moral call and not an order, hinting that stern measures may follow if the residents were not cooperative.

Last week, he appealed to Muslims to bring their own personal prayer mat for Friday prayers.

Istiqlal Mosque grand imam Nasaruddin Umar supported Anies’ move, saying yesterday morning: “There is enough reason to not hold Friday prayers or any communal prayers, as per the Indonesia Ulema Council’s edict, if you are in an area where problems are widespread, a virus is spreading.” — The Straits Times/ANN

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Friday prayers , pandemic , coronavirus


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