Devout Iranian Muslims are posting videos online showing that they are not scared of the coronavirus outbreak they are experiencing in their country.
According to state media – keep that in mind – there are 978 cases in Iran and 54 people have died, the country is facing the highest death toll from the virus outside of China. But, that is not stopping religious leaders from closing holy sites to prevent the spread of the infections despite advice from the Iranian Health Ministry.
Instead, videos are popping up from the center of the Iranian outbreak Qom, and they show Islamic devotees spreading fake news and forcing children to take part.
World Health Organisation @WHO needs to intervene urgently.
Videos of pro-regime people urging even their own children to lick the #CoronaVirus infested shrines are surfacing.
Not only is this child abuse, but it’s also helping the virus spread Iran and to other countries. pic.twitter.com/CDDYzSuxMF
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) February 29, 2020
Touching and kissing the surfaces of shrines is common for pilgrims and religious hardliners argue the holy sites of Qom are for “healing.”
However, many inside Iran are worried that the fanatical wing of the government is not taking the outbreak seriously despite recommendations from Iranian health officials. Estimates are that the actual death toll in Iran is five times greater than being reported.
“There are people who say that this shrine spreads coronavirus. I’m here to lick the tomb so that I can fall ill. This way, I’ve removed the virus. You can come and visit,” one man says in a video.
U.S. Department of State senior advisor for public affairs Len Khodorkovsky shared a clip, captioning it: “Don’t do this. Ever. But especially during the coronavirus outbreak.”
Saudi Arabia is taking the virus very seriously and has banned pilgrims from entering the country to prohibit exactly what is happening in Iran.
“The kingdom’s government has decided to [suspend] entry to the kingdom for the purpose of umrah and visit to the Prophet’s mosque temporarily,” the Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement.