By Tommy Hilton & Omar Elkatouri


Algeria closed its mosques on March 17 amid fears of the coronavirus spreading and are set to remain closed for Ramadan.

Quran recitations and religious speeches will be broadcast from minarets during Ramadan, according to the head of Algeria’s Fatwa Committee Muhammad Adir Mashnan.


Egypt was the first major Muslim country that was reported to be canceling communal iftars and prayers during Ramadan.

The country announced back on April 7 that it would be suspending all Ramadan activities including group iftars due to coronavirus.

On Saturday, Egypt’s top Sunni Muslim authority Al-Azhar confirmed that Muslims would still be expected to fast during Ramadan.


Iran, one of the worst-hit countries by the coronavirus pandemic in the Middle East, has been gradually reopening “essential” businesses in recent weeks as the economy struggles under coronavirus and US sanctions.

However, mosques remain closed across the country, with Friday prayers canceled. Tehran also recently extended the closure of Shia holy sites, a decision which had initially prompted demonstrations.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has appealed to Iranians to pray at home during Ramadan, while urging them to “not neglect worship, invocation, and humility in our loneliness.”


Iraq has lifted some of the curfew measures imposed on March 15 ahead of Ramadan. New measures will allow movement inside Baghdad during the daytime hours of 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. and some shops to reopen.

However, it is unclear whether authorities will tolerate mass gatherings for Ramadan.

Iraq has been in a state of unrest since at least the outbreak of mass protests in October 2019 against a political elite accused of being corrupt. Despite the coronavirus measures, Iraq has witnessed political and religious gatherings including by followers of Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.


Jordan will ban mosque prayers during the Ramadan according to a government minister on April 14. The kingdom has enforced a strict lockdown in the capital Amman, arresting people who leave their homes.


Libya remains in a state of conflict which is setting the country up for a disastrous coronavirus outbreak, according to experts and international organizations. Control of the country is split between the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) supported by a variety of militias and the Benghazi-based Libyan National Army led by Gen. Khalifa Haftar.

The LNA announced a curfew in the territory it controls on March 18. The GNA did likewise on March 22. It is unclear whether mosques are open in either of the curfews.


Lebanon, which is home to 18 officially recognized religious sects and thought to be around two thirds Muslim, is under a state of lockdown with mosques across the country currently closed.

However, footage has emerged from the northern city of Tripoli showing Muslims continuing to congregate for Friday prayers despite the restrictions on gatherings.


Morocco closed all mosques as part of its lockdown measures imposed on March 20. The government recently extended those measures until May 20, covering most of Ramadan.


Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound will be closed to Muslim worshippers throughout Ramadan, announced the Jordan-appointed council that oversees Islam’s third-holiest site on Thursday.

The decision extends a ban on Islamic prayers at the holy compound, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, that has been in effect since March 23.

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories Muhammad Hussein has also advised against the public sighting of the crescent moon, which is used to estimate the start of Ramadan.

In the Gaza Strip, Hamas shut down all mosques for two weeks.


The Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus has announced that mosques will remain closed for communal prayers until at least May 2.

Syria is still in a state of war, with areas including parts of the northwestern Idlib province controlled by anti-government opposition forces.


Like its neighbor Algeria, Tunisia also suspended prayers and closed mosques in mid-March. They have not been reopened ahead of Ramadan.


Turkey previously suspended mass prayers in mosques on March 16, when the country only had 18 coronavirus cases.

Last week, the country’s senior religious body confirmed that mosques will remain closed for Taraweeh and other communal prayers during Ramadan. It also called on Muslims to avoid hosting large communal iftar meals and practice social distancing.


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