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Iran May Bar Mass Ramadan Events Over Virus: Khamenei

Iran May Bar Mass Ramadan Events Over Virus: Khamenei

Thursday, 9 April, 2020 - 08:30
In this picture released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addresses the nation in a televised speech in Tehran, Iran, Thursday, April 9, 2020. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)
Asharq Al-Awsat

Iran´s supreme leader suggested Thursday that mass gatherings in the country may be barred through the holy Muslim fasting month Ramadan amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei made the comment in a televised address as Iran tries to restart its economic activity while suffering one of the world´s worst outbreaks.

"In the absence of public gatherings in the Ramadan month including praying, speeches and so on, that we are this year deprived of them, we should create the same senses in our lonesomeness," Khamenei said.

Ramadan is set to begin in late April and last through most of May. Public officials had not yet discussed plans for the holy month.

Khamenei urged Shiite faithful to pray in their homes during Ramadan.

Iran's health ministry on Thursday said 117 new deaths from the novel coronavirus took the total to 4,110 in the country.

Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said another 1,634 people tested positive for the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall number to 66,220.

However, experts have repeatedly questioned those numbers, especially as Iran initially downplayed the outbreak in February amid the 41st anniversary of its 1979 revolution and a crucial parliamentary vote.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has ordered the country's economy to slowly begin opening back up starting Saturday, leading to worries the nation could see a second wave of infections. The country's economy is suffering under intense US sanctions after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Khamenei made a point to remind Iranians that the US is the main enemy and mocked Americans who fought over toilet paper at stores and lined up outside of gun shops to purchase firearms.

"The problem of corona should not make us ignorant about the plots by our enemies and arrogant" powers, he said.

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