Alarming videos show Iranians LICKING holy shrines in religious tradition as country’s clerical hardliners refuse to close sites despite coronavirus outbreak
- The regime has shut schools, universities and sports centres to prevent spread
- But the hardline clerical establishment have still refused to close holy sites
- Clips show people licking the doors and burial mound inside Masumeh shrine
Iran has been accused of failing to clamp down on coronavirus contamination after alarming videos of worshippers licking a shrine emerged online.
As the country’s death toll climbs, the regime has called on citizens to avoid public places to prevent the spread of infection and have shut schools, universities and sports centres.
But the hardline clerical establishment have refused to close holy sites, even in the northern city of Qom which has suffered the brunt of the virus.
And clips on social media show people licking the doors and the burial mound inside the Masumeh shrine, defying advice by the Health Ministry to avoid touching or kissing any surfaces which is a common practice for pilgrims.
Worshippers in the videos brazenly state they ‘don’t care what happens’, even if they catch or spread the infection which has killed at least 54 in the country.
Worshippers in the videos brazenly state they ‘don’t care what happens’, (left) even if they catch or spread the infection which has killed at least 54 in the country. A child is even hailed for licking the doors (right)
One person who kisses the shrine in the holy Shi’ite Muslem city demands people ‘stop scaring people [about] coronavirus. A child is even hailed for licking the doors.
Journalist Masih Alinejed, who tweeted the worrying clips, said that by keeping the religious sites open, the regime was ‘endangering the lives of Iranians and the world’.
Iran has the second highest death toll outside mainland China, and ministers in Tehran have stepped up efforts to prevent the spread, which has infected 978.
Every day trucks filled with disinfectants spray down streets, shrines, public parks, trash bins, public toilets and markets in Qom, Tehran and other areas that have had cases of infection.
State TV showed workers wiping down metro and bus stations.
‘The smell of disinfectants has become my nightmare,’ said retired teacher Ziba Rezaie, 62, from Qom. ‘The city smells like a cemetery, a morgue.’
The head of the World Health Organisation’s emergencies programme, Mike Ryan, said Iran may be dealing with an outbreak that is worse than yet understood.
Clips on social media have shown people licking the doors and the burial mound inside the Masumeh shrine
Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rouhani, have repeatedly dismissed concerns raised by many Iranians over the handling of the outbreak, saying all the necessary measures to overcome the crisis have been taken.
Some doctors and nurses said hospitals in Tehran, Qom and Rasht city were overloaded.
‘Hospitals are full of infected people. We hear about hundreds of deaths,’ said a doctor in Tehran, who asked not to be named. ‘We need more hospitals. The death toll will rise.’
The Health Ministry has ordered hospitals to admit only infected people and those patients who need immediate care. Dozens of military-run hospitals have been allocated to treat the infected people.
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