Iranian religious fanatics protest closure of Shia shrines due to coronavirus

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The closure of Shia pilgrimage sites in Iran’s Shia holy cities of Qom and Mashhad as part of the country’s efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus has prompted sit-ins and protests in the two cities, according to videos circulating on social media.

Iran closed the Shia holy shrines of Imam Reza in Mashhad, Fatima Masumeh in Qom and Shah Abdol-Azim in Tehran on Monday until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

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Several videos showed protesters demanding authorities to re-open the Fatima Masumeh shrine in Qom, the epicenter of the outbreak.

One video showed angry protesters trying to force their way in through one of the shrine’s entrance doors.

A group of protesters partially damaged one of the shrine’s entrance doors, while another group were able to make it inside chanting religious slogans.

The protesters were eventually dispersed and the shrine’s entrance door was closed again, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

Another video showed protesters staging a sit-in outside the shrine. Men could be heard wailing and crying in the video.

Videos have also emerged from the Shia holy city of Mashhad showing protesters demanding the Imam Reza shrine to be reopened.

Protesters were seen chanting religious slogans outside the shrine in one video.

Another video showed security forces desperately attempting to keep angry protesters out of the shrine’s courtyard.

As of Monday, 853 in Iran have died from the coronavirus and there are 14,991 confirmed cases.

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