Iran closes mosques, schools in deadly ‘third wave’ of coronavirus

Iran closes mosques, schools in deadly ‘third wave’ of coronavirus
Iranians wear face masks as a COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic precaution in Tehran on October 19, 2020. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 01 November 2020

Iran closes mosques, schools in deadly ‘third wave’ of coronavirus

Iran closes mosques, schools in deadly ‘third wave’ of coronavirus
  • Number of confirmed coronavirus cases up by 7,719 to 620,491 on Sunday
  • Police will make unannounced visits to other high-risk businesses, and those that violate health protocols will be shut down

JEDDAH:: Mosques, schools, universities, beauty salons, cafes, gyms, museums, theaters and swimming pools in 25 of Iran’s 31 provinces were ordered to close for 10 days from next Wednesday.

In Tehran, the closure of beauty salons, teahouses, cinemas, libraries and fitness clubs has been extended for a week. 

Police will make unannounced visits to other high-risk businesses, and any found to be breaking health rules will be shut down. Weddings, funeral gatherings and conferences in the capital have been banned.

Authorities have blamed a sharp increase in coronavirus cases on people failing to follow restrictions, and President Hassan Rouhani said an operations headquarters would be set up to ensure compliance.

Iran was slow to respond to the pandemic when the first cases emerged there in February, and is now the worst-affected country in the Middle East. It recorded several recent daily fatality and infection highs, with figures on the rise since September.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Iran increased by 7,719 to 620,491, health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV on Sunday.

The death toll rose by 434 to 35,298, she said.

Most analysts believe the real figures are higher. “The disease’s spread … especially in the city of Tehran is worse than what the government has revealed so far,” Etemad daily wrote on Saturday.

Calls are growing for a full national lockdown, which Rouhani has resisted because the Iranian economy, already collapsing under US sanctions, could not cope.

One leading doctor said daily fatalities could reach 900 unless tougher measures were taken. 

“The country, or high-risk cities, must be completely quarantined for two to three weeks,” said Alireza Naji, head of the virology department at Iran’s top respiratory disease hospital, Masih Daneshvari.

In Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, the virus remained largely under control. Health chiefs reported 403 new cases on Saturday, taking the total to 347,282, and the death toll rose by 19 to 5,402. Worldwide the virus has infected more than 46 million people and killed nearly 1.2 million.

Amid fears of a “second wave” of infection sweeping Europe, Austria’s government declared a second mass shutdown and a curfew from this week until the end of November, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed a new lockdown in England until Dec. 2.

 


Sudan schoolbook picture sparks angry reform debate

Sudan schoolbook picture sparks angry reform debate
Bookseller Yaqoub Mohamed Yaqoub, 45, sits by his roadside stall where he has been working for 15 years, in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, on January 14, 2021. (AFP)
Updated 16 January 2021

Sudan schoolbook picture sparks angry reform debate

Sudan schoolbook picture sparks angry reform debate
  • Unrest ricocheted beyond North African country, triggering uprisings, crackdowns, civil wars

KHARTOUM: As Sudan’s transitional government shifts the nation from the Islamist rule of ousted strongman Omar Bashir, a new schoolbook has sparked controversy for reproducing Michelangelo’s iconic “Creation of Adam.”
Khartoum’s government has embarked on deeply controversial reforms in a bid to boost its international standing and rescue its ailing economy — but bringing it into a confrontation with those who see changes as anti-Islamic.
The offending picture, in a history textbook for teenagers, has become a flashpoint in the argument. “It is an ugly offense,” said Sudan’s Academy of Islamic Fiqh, the body ruling on Islamic law, which issued an edict banning teaching from the book.
Michelangelo’s fresco, depicting the Biblical story of God reaching out with his hand to give life to Adam, is a flagship piece of 16th century Renaissance art that forms part of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling in Rome.
“The book glorifies Western culture in a way that makes it the culture of science and civilization — in contrast to its presentation of Islamic civilization,” the Fiqh academy added.

BACKGROUND

In a viral video, a preacher broke down as he waved the book during Friday prayers, accusing it of promoting ‘apostasy’ and ‘heresy.’

Furious Muslim clerics have railed against the book and other changes to the school curriculum.
In one video widely shared on social media, a preacher broke down as he waved the book during Friday prayers, accusing it of promoting “apostasy” and “heresy.”
Another urged followers to “burn the book.”
But others defended the changes, saying they were part of necessary education reforms.
“The picture is not in a religious book,” teacher Qamarya Omar said.
“It is in a history book for the sixth-grade under a section called European Renaissance, which makes it placed in context.”