Coronavirus: Organization of Islamic Cooperation backs Saudi plan for Two Holy Mosque
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) supported on Wednesday Saudi Arabia’s measures with regards to the Two Holy Mosques to contain the spread of the coronavirus, according to the final communique of the virtual meeting held on Wednesday of the OIC members’ foreign ministers on the coronavirus pandemic.
The body of 57-member states also stressed the importance of the Kingdom’s timely decision to suspend Umrah and visits to the Prophet’s Mosque.
Saudi Arabia had halted on February 27 entry for individuals seeking to perform Umrah pilgrimage in Mecca or visiting the Prophet's Mosque in Medina, five days before the first coronavirus case was detected in the Kingdom on March 2, a Saudi national who was coming back from Iran through Bahrain.
The Kingdom also announced on March 4 stopping its nationals and residents from visiting Mecca to perform Umrah or visiting the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Also, on March 20, Saudi Arabia’s authorities halted entering and praying in the outer courtyards of the Two Holy Mosques in Mecca and Medina.
The Kingdom had also closed on March 25 the third expansion of the Grand Mosque in Mecca.
And for the duration of the holy month of Ramadan, which starts this weekend, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud approved on April 22 performing a reduced version of Taraweeh prayers in the Two Holy Mosques in Mecca and Medina, with the continued suspension of entry of worshipers.
The President General of the General Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques' Affairs, Sheikh Dr. Abdulrahman bin Abdulaziz Al-Sudais, had announced on Tuesday that group Taraweeh prayers will be performed in the Two Holy Mosques, but only limited to the authority’s employees and workers, and will be shortened to five Tasleemat (i.e. 10 Rak’ahs).
Call to help vulnerable states fight coronavirus
The OIC urged its member states to help struggling Muslim states combat the coronavirus pandemic, particularly in Africa.
“The Meeting calls upon all member states and the OIC institutions to display their solidarity with the African OIC countries against the COVID-19 pandemic, which are in a vulnerable and disadvantaged situation due to their scarce means in healthcare sector, in order to answer their urgent needs such as medical and good supplies, and economic and financial assistance,” the OIC communique stated.
“No country alone can deal with the damage and multiple challenges presented by the novel coronavirus.”
Call for end to violence in Yemen
The Jeddah-based OIC also called on warring parties in Yemen to declare a ceasefire, end the violence, and allow medical and food assistance to reach the affected, echoing a call by the United Nations for a ceasefire to allow delivery of aid.
“(The OIC) strongly supports the UN Secretary-General's appeal for a global ceasefire to focus on fighting coronavirus pandemic. It also welcomes the announcement by the Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen of a two-week ceasefire in Yemen starting April 9, 2020, and calls on all parties to respect this initiative and engage in talks for a comprehensive and lasting peace agreed upon by all Yemenis.”