Online videos are being shared in Iran of people licking and kissing a Muslim shrine to show they are not scared of the country’s growing coronavirus outbreak.
The videos, which have reportedly emerged from Iran’s coronavirus epicenter of Qom, show several devotees spreading misinformation about the virus, with some seemingly forcing their children to take part.
Trying to prevent panic, the government has not locked down Qom but has imposed broad restrictions such as limitations on who is allowed in and out of the city
Some Iranians are defying advice by the Health Ministry to avoid touching or kissing surfaces of certain shrines, a common practice for pilgrims.
While the city of Qom is the epicentre of #CoronaVirus in Iran, authorities refuse to close down religious shrines there.— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) February 29, 2020
These pro-regime people are licking the shrines & encouraging people to visit them.
Iran’s authorities are endangering lives of Iranians & the world pic.twitter.com/s9o6zYhzNQ
“There are people who say that this shrine spreads coronavirus. I’m here to lick the tomb so that I can fall ill. This way, I’ve removed the virus. You can come and visit,” one man says in a video.
One video shows a child licking a shrine while an adult says, “bravo to this young child for licking all the doors … We’re the ones who will get the virus and our children.”
In another, a man says, “in sacred temples like these, there’s no room for viruses, germs or diseases. This is a place of heaven. This is a place of cure. There’s no disease here.”
World Health Organisation @WHO needs to intervene urgently.— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) February 29, 2020
Videos of pro-regime people urging even their own children to lick the #CoronaVirus infested shrines are surfacing.
Not only is this child abuse, but it’s also helping the virus spread Iran and to other countries. pic.twitter.com/CDDYzSuxMF
Iranian journalist and activist Masih Alinejad has been sharing the videos via Twitter, with harsh criticism of the Iranian regime.
“Not only is this child abuse, but it’s also helping the virus spread [around] Iran and to other countries. Iran’s authorities are endangering lives of Iranians and the world.” she said.
More videos are emerging of people licking the shrines in the city of Qom #CoronaVirus, the epicentre of the epidemic in Iran.— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) March 1, 2020
Iran’s authorities still adamantly refuse to close these religious sites.
The virus is wreaking havoc all over the country pic.twitter.com/veCQd6ots6
The Iranian government has faced criticism in its handling of coronavirus, which is one of the worst outbreaks outside China.
While Iran has acknowledged 54 deaths among 978 confirmed infections nationwide – with a vice-president and deputy health minister among those testing positive – unofficial tolls are much higher.
The London-based BBC Persian service says 210 people have been killed by the virus; a figure it says it collated from hospital sources. The report was immediately dismissed by Iran’s health ministry.
The People’s Mujahedin, an exiled organisation that Tehran considers a terrorist group, claims that the epidemic has killed “more than 300” while infecting up to 15,000 across the country.
Six epidemiologists based in Canada used a mathematical model to estimate that there have been more than 18,000 cases on Iranian soil.
The government of stifling news on the spread of the virus. Officials insist they have the situation under control but they have just obstructed journalists trying to cover the story.
Some doctors and nurses told Reuters that hospitals in Tehran, Qom and Rasht city were overloaded with infected people. We hear about hundreds of deaths,” said a doctor in Tehran, who asked not to be named.
We hear about hundreds of death and the death toll in Iran is certainly going to rise dramatically if officials don’t start to care about their country! More coronavirus news on Strange Sounds and Steve Quayle. [SBS]