Devout Muslims in Iran who defy coronavirus health warnings were warned Tuesday they could be jailed and flogged after videos emerged of them licking holy shrines to prove their personal invincibility against any threat of infection.
As Breitbart News reported, the faithful have taken to licking and kissing shrines to show they have no fear of infection during the country’s escalating coronavirus outbreak. They record the practice and then release it on social media.
The videos, which have reportedly emerged from Iran’s coronavirus epicentre of Qom, also show Islamic devotees spreading misinformation about the virus while forcing young children to also take part.
More videos are emerging of people licking the shrines in the city of Qom #CoronaVirus, the epicentre of the epidemic in Iran.
Iran's authorities still adamantly refuse to close these religious sites.
The virus is wreaking havoc all over the country pic.twitter.com/veCQd6ots6
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) March 1, 2020
Touching and kissing surfaces in shrines is a common practice for Muslim pilgrims, and religious hardliners argue the holy sites of Qom are “a place for healing.”
However such is the scale of the viral infection spreading across Iran that the government has decided to act.
BBC News reports lawmaker Hasan Nowrozi is pushing back against the practice. He said:
Those doing such unconventional acts are publishing fake and superstitious news against the officials in the country.
Such people would face two months to two years [in] jail and up to 74 lashes as punishment.
Iran has the second highest death toll outside mainland China, and ministers in Tehran have stepped up efforts to prevent the spread, which has infected at least 978 people.
Every day trucks filled with disinfectants spray down streets, shrines, public parks, trash bins, public toilets and markets in Qom, Tehran and other areas that have had cases of infection.
State TV showed workers wiping down metro and bus stations.
Health Minister Saeed Namaki announced on Tuesday that 300,000 members of Iranian security forces would begin a house-to-house campaign assessing individuals at risk of the virus, suggesting the regime fears that many Iranians are not reporting or seeking treatment for their symptoms.
He also ordered hospitals to focus on treating the disease and canceled public events including Friday prayers in order to help contain the outbreak, as Breitbart News reported.