KRG rejects ‘unfounded’ reports claiming mosques will be reopened during Ramadan

A KRG statement affirmed that claims of religious services reopening during Ramadan are “unfounded.”

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Region's Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs on Sunday rejected reports claiming that the government would allow the reopening of mosques for the holy month of Ramadan throughout the autonomous region as restrictions remain in place to limit the spread of the new coronavirus disease.

Ramadan is set to begin on the evening of April 23 and will end on May 23. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) ordered in March that mosques were to remain closed indefinitely as places of large gatherings are at high risk of spreading the coronavirus to a large number of people.

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A ministry statement affirmed that claims of such sites reopening for Ramadan are "unfounded." It noted that the government looks forward to the day services can finally be resumed, but stressed that protecting the health and lives of the public remains a top priority as the outbreak lingers.

The statement also said that the ministry would not issue the decision of allowing the reopening of places of worship. It is, instead, a task for the KRG's Higher Committee to Combat the Coronavirus.

In his Easter message to Christians in the Kurdistan Region, Prime Minister Masrour Barzani stated, "I know the heavy burden on all faiths; our churches, mosques and temples remain closed to protect people against #coronavirus."

"I urge everybody to #StayHome. We're in this together."

In early March, the KRG ordered the closure of all religious services, as well as restaurants, coffee shops, and other entertainment or sports venues. This was followed by strict curfew measures two weeks later that the government has extended and expanded on multiple occasions.

For the most part, the public at large has cooperated, but security forces have needed to enforce the new rules.

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The number of coronavirus cases in the Kurdistan Region has reached 330, among which four have died and 149 have recovered, a statement from the regional Health Ministry said late Sunday.

The disease has infected over 1,350 people across Iraq, according to numbers reported by Baghdad, despite strict measures instituted by the authorities in Baghdad and Erbil to contain it. Baghdad has reported 76 deaths due to COVID-19 and 601 recoveries.