Pakistan's President Arif Alvi briefs the media after a meeting with ulema in Islamabad on April 18. He has reached a consensus with religious leaders regarding reopening mosques for Ramadan. (Photo supplied)
Health workers in Pakistan have pleaded with authorities to reconsider a decision to open mosques for congregational prayers during the holy month of Ramadan starting today.The government last week allowed clerics to hold congregational prayers during the month under a 20-point consensus strategy which includes maintaining a six-foot distance between worshipers inside mosques.But health workers leading the fight against the coronavirus criticized the move.The government "has made a very wrong decision, and our ulema [clerics] have exhibited a non-serious attitude, which is like playing with human lives," said Qaiser Sajjad, secretary-general of Pakistan Medical Association.Sajjad, a medical doctor, was addressing a news conference in Karachi on April 22. "We need to understand that this is a fight between corona versus doctors and paramedical staff," he said.
Father Anthony Abraz, a parish priest of St. Thomas Church and a core committee member of the National Commission for Interfaith and Dialogue-Ecumenism of the Archdiocese of Karachi, said coronavirus cases are increasing daily after the relaxation of the nationwide lockdown.
"We advocate religious freedom but this is not solely a religious issue. We need to show responsibility for each other, and the only thing we can do is to save others by protecting ourselves," Father Arbaz said.
"We appreciate the remarkable job being done by doctors to combat the coronavirus. The government should pay heed to their demands."