Baghdad, Iraq – Ahead of a solemn mourning period for Shia Muslims, the message from the old man came through loud and clear: Coronavirus will not stop us from observing our ceremonies.
“Listen to me!” the white-bearded man said in a video that went viral on social media as he addressed a crowd of worshippers inside a revered shrine.
“Whether coronavirus exists or not, we will maintain our rituals as usual,” he said, referring to the commemoration of the seventh-century death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad.
“Here we are at your service, oh Hussein,” the worshippers replied, pumping their fists in the air. Some expressed their emotion by crying.
While Iraqi health authorities are struggling to contain the rocketing number of COVID-19 cases, a new challenge is popped up: Mass gatherings of mourners determined to observe their weeks-long ceremonies.