Turkey's top religious body issues Ramadan guidelines for mosques

Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate has published pandemic guidelines for all mosques to follow during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Birgün newspaper reported on Sunday.

Mosques have been ordered to follow mask-wearing and social distancing rules as called for by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the directorate urging extra measures for cleaning and disinfection in the houses of worship, it said.

Muslims in Turkey will begin fasting on Tuesday, the first day of the holy month of Ramadan, which is also marked by congregational activities, such fast-breaking meals and night prayers.

Mosques will warn those with COVID-19 symptoms and on lockdown against attending mosques, according to the guidelines, while those who attend congregational prayers are to avoid any physical contact or forming crowds at the entrance and exit of the houses of worship.

Turkey’s mosques will be holding night prayers known as tarawih, throughout the month, but the head of the directorate, Ali Erbaş, earlier this week urged citizens to perform the prayer in their own homes.

Turkey’s daily cases have hit an all-time high of over 50,000, according to the health ministry data.

Last month, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced a tightening of pandemic measures, including the return of full nationwide weekend lockdowns during Ramadan.