KEEPING COVID-19 AT BAY

Congregational prayers prohibited during Idd-ul-Adha

Faithful say the day is important to them and they should have been allowed to congregate

In Summary

• Faithful say they were ready to follow the Covid-19 guidelines, including social distancing, wearing masks and sanitising hands. 

• Government and county officials agreed there would be no prayers on open grounds, as is the norm.

Garissa county commissioner Meru Mwangi and county secretary Abdi Sheikh
Garissa county commissioner Meru Mwangi and county secretary Abdi Sheikh
Image: /STEPHEN ASTARIKO

Muslim faithful in Garissa have said the government should have allowed them to congregate on open grounds during Friday's Idd-ul-Adha.

They said the day is important to them, and they were ready to follow the Covid-19 guidelines, including social distancing, wearing masks and sanitising hands. 

This comes after the government prohibited congregational prayers.

 
 

During a Covid-19 response committee meeting attended by Supkem national organising secretary Abdulahi Salat, government and county officials agreed there would be no prayers on open grounds as is the norm.

The committee issued guidelines to be observed in mosques during the Idd-ul-Adha celebrations following an upsurge in Covid-19 cases.

The committee is co-chaired by county commissioner Meru Mwangi and Governor Ali Korane.

Salat, who was in support of the directive, said, "We are living in extraordinary times that call for extraordinary measures."

He said although the day is important to the Muslim fraternity, it would not be wise to put the lives of thousands of faithful at risk.

In a joint statement read by Garissa county secretary Abdi Sheikh, they said the committee agreed that no public gathering would be allowed. Those who defy the order will be dealt with in accordance with the law.

Other guidelines include 1.5-2m social distancing, all ablution blocks closed, children under 13 years and those above 58 years will not be allowed in mosques.

 
 

The protocol also requires that individuals should come to the mosque with their own prayer mats, wear masks and use sanitiser before and after prayers.

But speaking to the press separately, resident Amina Mohamed said the directive was not well-thought-out.

“What could have been so difficult for the government to allow us to congregate and pray while we observe the Ministry of Health protocols? This is a very important day and it comes to us once in a year,” she said.

“I know many people are prepared to converge tomorrow. The best thing the government should have done is to mark the field to allow for social distancing.”

Another faithful Ahmed Hussein said people are aware of the dangers posed by Covid-19.

“I can tell you people know what is expected of them even when in public places or where there are a lot of people. We are all maintaining social distancing and that could have happened had we been allowed to converge for prayer,” he said.

Edited by A.N