Singapore freezes mosque activities after fatwa committee’s approval

Singapore’s Islamic authorities have suspended Friday prayers and other mosque activities for two weeks. (Facebook pic)

PETALING JAYA: Singapore has ordered the temporary closure of four mosques following confirmation that they were frequented by those who had been to a Muslim missionary convention in Kuala Lumpur where a Covid-19 patient had also attended.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) also announced the closure of all mosques for five days beginning tomorrow, with all mosque activities, including weekly Friday prayers, suspended for two weeks.

“Communal activities such as congregational prayers (daily and on Fridays) may expose congregants to transmission of the virus by unsuspecting infected individuals,” Muis said in a statement.

“The fatwa committee has released a fatwa on the permissibility of closing mosques and suspending the Friday congregational prayers when the need arises in the interest of public health and safety.”

Religious lectures, classes and mosque-based kindergarten lessons have also been suspended for the next two weeks.

Muis said these measures were to prevent a possible cluster of Covid-19 cases in the mosques, emphasising that this was only temporary.

This comes after 90 Singaporeans were confirmed to be among the 10,000 who had attended an Islamic missionary gathering at a mosque in Sri Petaling, Kuala Lumpur, from Feb 27 to March 1.

Members of the tabligh, a loose group of Muslim missionaries, usually hold their weekly congregation there.

The mass gathering has already been linked to a Malaysian and a Brunei patient who had both tested positive for Covid-19.

Muis said it had received information from the republic’s health ministry that there were Singaporeans who attended this event and who had been tested positive.

Muis is working closely with the ministry to assist with the ongoing contact-tracing efforts.

The ministry will be contacting the identified attendees to advise them on the follow-up required, it added.

Malaysian Health Minister Dr Adham Baba had said earlier today that the Sri Petaling mosque would be temporarily closed for disinfection.

Meanwhile, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong urged further caution, stressing that latest developments internationally could mean the city-state will be facing the virus for a longer period of time.

He said it was necessary to put in place preventive measures for the mid and long term and to be psychologically prepared should the situation worse.

“Look at Italy … only three cases three weeks ago but now there are more than 7,000 cases.

“We must be careful before attending any gatherings, including religious gatherings. We already have two cases involving attendees of the mass tabligh in Kuala Lumpur.

“In difficult times like these, I hope you understand and support these practical methods to reduce the number of congregations and shorten sermons to take care of the safety of fellow congregants,” he said in a national address.