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Mosque defies rules, becomes virus hotspot

Although authorities and religious leaders have called on mosques to close down during the pandemic, worshippers have opted not to pay heed to these warnings. Using their own keys, they continued visiting a particular mosque even during lockdown. As a result, several members of the religious community have become infected and one worshipper died.

At least 21 members of the Faizul mosque's religious community in The Hague have become infected with novel coronavirus, including the chairman of the board and the imam. A leading member of the community, a 77-year-old man, has died of the disease. The reason the mosque has become a coronavirus hotspot is that although the management decided in March to close down the building, members of the religious community failed to comply with the rule and continued to hold religious gatherings during the holy month of Ramadan. The services were attended by more than 30 people, without regard to observing the required social distancing restrictions.

Community members say a large number of people have keys to the building, so they were able to enter even despite the board's decision, thinking perhaps that they would not contract the virus. The eldelry victim, who attended the ceremonies regularly, was certain that nothing could happen to him because he was a Muslim.

The first infection was detected on 22 May. The board closed down the building and planned to keep it shut until 10 June, to allow for general disinfection. However, reports say that the community held religious services in the building during that period, with the deceased man's coffin lying in state in there.

Expressing their grievances, several members of the religious community have demanded firm action from the authorities. However, their hands are somewhat tied, because services attended by less than 30 participants are exempt from the lockdown rules and authorities can only take action if they discover an actual service in progrees with more than thirty people in attendance.

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