Thank you, UAE: Faith leaders recall authorities' hard work to keep worshippers safe

 khaleejtimes.com  06/30/2020 20:00:00  2  Saman Haziq
 Faith leaders, recall, authorities, hard work, worshippers safe

As people rejoice at the reopening of mosques and other places of worship from tomorrow, July 1, faith leaders couldn't help but recall all the hard work that went into ensuring public safety. They lauded the authorities who planned every detail and guided them throughout the preparations.

Mahmudul Hassan Khan Mohammed, imam of New Port Saeed Masjid, Al Muraqqabat, said the UAE authorities "left no stone unturned".

Prayers in all places of worship across the country were suspended from March 16. And by the first week of April, all mosques were already being sterilised, said Mohammed.

"The sterilisation was then repeated through an intensified method in early June. This was followed by the distribution of posters detailing precautionary measures. Imams/muezzins were also briefed on the safety measures that worshippers must follow."

Instructions on where to place the safety posters were given, and the mosques' staff had to send photos of the posted materials to area coordinators, he added.

Then, an inspection was carried out by two teams, the Department of Religious Services in the Masaajid and the Engineering and Mosques Care Section.

"The final steps before reopening involved the government-funded Covid-19 screening for preachers, imam and muezzins. After which, the caretakers of the Masaajid were sent for the test."

Another imam, Abdul Hameed Zafar, lauded the efforts of the UAE Government, saying he saw firsthand how determined the authorities were in guiding all mosques towards a safe reopening.

"We, imams of mosques in Dubai, received regular updates from the authorities through text messages and e-mails, explaining to us how we are supposed to organise worshippers and see to it that the mosque is occupied by only 30 per cent of its capacity," he said.

Zafar reiterated that although mosques have always been a place of solace and comfort for worshippers, the public should prioritise safety in the time of Covid-19.

"We have to explain to any seniors or kids that they are still not allowed to come to the mosque and it is for the larger good. We must understand that the government has worked very hard to ensure our safety. So, now the responsibility of making this a success rests on the shoulder of worshippers."

Heads of churches and temples were also guided in navigating the new normal for prayers and worship.

At the gurudwara in Dubai, two disinfection tunnels have been set up at the entrance gates, said Surender Singh Kandhari, chairman of Gurunanak Darbar Sikh Temple, Surender Singh Kandhari.

"We have temperature scanners and sanitisers, and people will not be allowed to sit in the prayer hall once they finish their prayers," said Kandhari.

At the St Thomas Indian Orthodox Church in Oud Metha, brightly coloured floor stickers are placed to remind people of social distancing rules.

Rev Fr Ninan Philip, vicar and president of the church, said: "We have made sure the guidelines as prescribed by the Community Development Authority are put in place."

saman@khaleejtimes.com

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