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2 May, 2020 11:19

‘We don’t care about coronavirus’: Thousands attend mass prayer in Afghanistan during Ramadan, defying quarantine (VIDEO)

Thousands of defiant Muslims have held public prayers during Ramadan in Afghanistan, ignoring Covid-19 safety measures. Their radical leader previously said that dying from the virus would be a form of martyrdom.

A large crowd of followers of hardline Salafist preacher Mujib Rahman Ansari had gathered for an open-air group prayer near the Gazer Gah Sharif pilgrimage site in Herat, Afghanistan’s third-largest city. The worshippers sat in tight rows, close to each other, ignoring social distancing norms and not wearing masks or other protective gear.

“We don’t care about the coronavirus. We believe God created the coronavirus. I think it is just a creation of God, just as we are. It was God’s will to create such a virus,” one of the attendees told Ruptly video agency.

Ansari had previously told his followers that deaths from Covid-19 would be considered martyrdom.

Many Muslim clerics have urged worshipers to pray at home during Ramadan – a holy month in Islam – and to continue social distancing during the pandemic. Meanwhile, a number of countries, including Iran, have cancelled Friday prayers in major cities to avoid the spread of the disease. 

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