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Iranians disregard fast-spreading virus, keep licking and kissing religious shrine

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Iran has recorded the highest number of coronavirus cases in the Middle East, and is second only to China in the number of reported deaths. What’s more, a top adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has died from the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, this has not stopped Muslim worshipers from licking and kissing a shrine in Iran’s holy city of Qom, which Shia Muslims consider to be the second most sacred city in the Persian Gulf country after Mashhad.

A video captured two men and a younger male identified as a child licking the doors and burial mound inside the Fatima Masumeh shrine, with the men saying they are not afraid of the highly infectious virus that has killed close to 3,000 worldwide.

Here is the video, shared by Iranian journalist and activist Masih Alinejad:

Looking to prevent panic, the Iranian government has not locked down Qom, but has imposed broad restrictions limiting who’s allowed in and out of the area, according to NBC News.

Calling the shrine in Qom “a place for healing,” some religious hardliners, including clerics, have dismissed the idea of closing the holy site down to prevent the spread of the virus, the network reported.

On that same note, Saudi Arabia closed off the two holiest sites in Islam to foreign pilgrims over the coronavirus last week.

Saudi Arabia barred pilgrims from Mecca and the holy city of Medina, and authorities have suspended entry to travelers holding tourist visas from any nation affected by the virus, according to the Washington Post.

Alinejad also shared a video of an apparent child licking the shrine, as she called for the World Health Organization to intervene.

She added in the tweet: “Not only is this child abuse, but it’s also helping the virus spread [in] Iran and to other countries.”

In yet another video, a man is seen calling for death to those too scared to come and lick the shrine — which is somewhat ironic, given that licking the shrine may very well result in death.

Tom Tillison


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