Tens of thousands of Islamic faithful in Bangladesh defied coronavirus lockdown restrictions Saturday to attend the funeral of revered Muslim cleric Maulana Zubayer Ahmad Ansari.
Mohammad Maunul Haque, joint secretary general of the Bangladesh Islamist party, said people walked through the Brahmanbaria district from the surrounding area defying the country’s ban on more than five people attending prayers at one time to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
An estimated 100,000 eventually people flooded the streets and stood closely side by side in large crowds to pay their final respects to the religious leader, despite the family initially agreeing with police that only 50 people would attend because of the risk of spreading the infection.
“We never thought that such a large number of people would show up at a time when there is a countrywide lockdown. They came from all sides — even through the fields and other normally unused routes,” one observer told AFP.
Bangladesh Police Central spokesman Sohel Rana said the officer in charge and assistant superintendent were withdrawn from the event and police formed a committee to determine how such a large gathering was allowed to form.
Bangladesh imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 26 as coronavirus spread across the country of 168 million people. The first death from the disease was recorded on March 18.
Bangladesh has recorded 2,456 cases of COVID-19 and 91 deaths related to the virus.
Last month at least 25,000 people attended a muslim prayer meeting in a field in the southern city of Raipur to chant “healing verses” to rid the country of the deadly virus.
UPI contributed to this story