ISLAMABAD – This is the first time in 35 years that Venus and her husband have been unable to attend Easter prayers at the Roman Catholic Church in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.
“All Christians in our area want to go to prayer, but security is very tight,” he said, preferring to use one name to protect his identity.
The Pakistani government has ordered the closure, amid the outbreaks of the coronavirus. The ban made many residents, including Venus, sad.
“These are special days of prayer for us. My heart is sad because I cannot go to God’s place.”
In a separate neighborhood in Islamabad, Muhammad Afzal said he felt empty when he could not go to the mosque. The 55-year-old prayed at the mosque five times a day for the past 16 years.
While mosques in Pakistan remain open, the number of people permitted to gather to pray is limited to five.
“Namaz (Muslim prayer) is my passion. But praying at home does not give me the same satisfaction. Afzal said:” There is no feeling like going to the mosque and bowing before God. “
Regardless of their personal feelings, Venus and Afzal have agreed on government restrictions necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.
Religious gatherings were the biggest cause of the spread of the coronavirus in Pakistan. A meeting of Muslim missionaries, a Teblaji group in Lahore last month attended by tens of thousands of people, including foreigners, caused the virus to spread in several cities.
Finally, group centers should be declared across Pakistan as a quarantine area, as the government attempts to track down all those attending the meeting, and those who contact the group.
Pakistan is not the only country that prohibits large gatherings, including religious ones, to limit the spread of what may be one of the most infectious viruses known to man.
On Sunday, Pope Francis celebrated a Mass in the almost empty Church of St. Peter. Usually, tens of thousands of people attend the event.
Experts around the world say that until vaccines are developed, the best defense against viruses is to take preventive measures, including crowd and group bans.
However, the Pakistani cleric, Mufti Kifaya Allah, opposes the proposal, saying that the best protection against the halo virus is the power of prayer.
At his mosque in Mancera, which is located about 110 kilometers north of Islamabad, a large number of worshipers gathered at Friday prayers last week.
“If you close your mosque, at least 20 million people will be infected with the Corona virus,” he said. “I agree with all precautions recommended by the government, but not with the restrictions imposed on attending the mosque.”
The cleric said he would violate government orders at prayer meetings even if he was arrested.
While many religious leaders in Pakistan supported the government in its efforts to control the spread of the virus, the partial closure of places of religious gathering also led to conspiracy theories.
Market research firm Ipsos found in a recent public survey that nearly 43% of Pakistanis believe coronaviruses are a conspiracy by Americans or Israelis to weaken Muslims.
Mansour Ahmed, from Rawalpindi, said that some people in his mosque have the same view and want to continue gathering to pray: “This is really my mother.”
He added: “If the prayer causes the spread of infection, then the prayer is dangerous.”
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