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Indonesians return to mosques, at a distance

Indonesian Muslims pray spaced apart as they practice social distancing to curb the spread of the new coronavirus during an Eid al-Fitr prayer marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Sidoarjo, East Java, Indonesia, Sunday, May 24, 2020.

Indonesian Muslims pray spaced apart as they practice social distancing to curb the spread of the new coronavirus during an Eid al-Fitr prayer marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Sidoarjo, East Java, Indonesia, Sunday, May 24, 2020.   | Photo Credit: AP

The guidelines for worship facilities released by religious affairs minister Fachrul Razi on Friday change many traditions in mosques. Worshippers usually pray shoulder to shoulder, and they huddle, hug and shake hands once the prayer ends, with cheek-to-cheek kisses common.

Muslims in some parts of Indonesia attended Friday prayers as mosques closed by the coronavirus for weeks were allowed to start reopening in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

The guidelines for worship facilities released by religious affairs minister Fachrul Razi on Friday change many traditions in mosques. Worshippers usually pray shoulder to shoulder, and they huddle, hug and shake hands once the prayer ends, with cheek-to-cheek kisses common.

Muslims in the Jakarta satellite city of Bekasi were expected during Friday’s prayers to stay at least 1 meter (yard) apart from one another without shaking hands and would hear shorter sermons. No children were allowed to join the prayers, and police and soldiers were there to ensure health protocols such as social distancing and wearing a mask were observed.

Similar scenes were seen in another satellite city of Bogor, and Makassar, one of Indonesia’s big cities on Sulawesi island.

President Joko Widodo said his administration wants Indonesia to remain productive economically but also safe from the virus. He said any measures to start the so-called new normal would be based on epidemiological data.

The government has been deploying 340,000 security forces gradually to enforce the health rules as the country prepares to reopen its economy.

Indonesia recorded more than 24,500 COVID-19 cases as of Thursday with nearly 1,500 deaths, the highest fatalities in Southeast Asia.

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Printable version | Jul 12, 2020 9:59:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/indonesians-return-to-mosques-at-a-distance/article31700808.ece

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