Coronavirus: Muslims repeat calls for mosque closures

Image caption,
Social media footage showed worshippers outside a mosque in Leicester on Friday

Muslim groups have repeated calls for mosques to close during the coronavirus crisis after some held Friday prayers.

It follows social media footage showing worshippers queuing for prayers at a mosque in Leicester.

Many mosques have suspended gatherings following guidance from the Muslim Council of Britain. However some congregations are continuing to meet.

The Federation of Muslim Organisations said there was a "duty to protect one another from harm".

'Pray at home'

The footage drew widespread condemnation and was shared by university researcher Yahya Birt, who described the scenes as "shameful incompetence".

In a statement on Saturday, the Leicestershire-based Federation of Muslim Organisations said it "strongly recommends that Muslim institutions [...] suspend all congregational activities with immediate effect".

"With the increasing rate of transmission and the rising number of deaths, we all have a public and an Islamic duty to protect one another from harm, and it is evident the most effective way to do this is to avoid social contact as much as possible."

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A group of Muslim doctors, based in northwest England, also called on mosque officials to "adhere to the guidance", advising that people pray at home instead.

In a statement, the doctors urged community leaders to "take drastic action to avoid the scenario where there are thousands of deaths due to the inaction of the masaajid" (mosques) .

Churches and cathedrals in England are planning to stream services after being instructed to close for three months because of coronavirus.

The Church of England has restricted wedding ceremonies to five people, while baptisms are also limited to the candidate, their parents, guardians or carers, the godparents and the minister.

Scotland's main churches have said only close family should attend funerals.