Better to screen at mosques than bar foreigners, says activist

Restrictions on prayers at mosques have been relaxed, but foreigners remain barred.

PETALING JAYA: An Islamic activist has urged the government to consider stricter health screening at mosques instead of barring foreigners from praying there.

Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, founder and director of the Islamic Renaissance Front, said the ban borders on xenophobia.

“While I understand that this ruling was meant to protect Muslim citizens and that the current spurt of new cases were mainly among migrants, a better way to solve this issue is to utilise a standard protocol in screening,” said Farouk, who is a cardiothoracic surgeon by profession.

Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa

He said screening protocols such as temperature checks at entrances and scanning of barcodes as practisced in shops could be done at mosques.

“Wouldn’t it be seen to be a religion that is more egalitarian in nature and does not practice any form of discrimination?” he said.

“Islam should never be seen as a religion that condones any form of discrimination and prejudice.”

The government has said that the restriction on foreigners was because of a higher number of recent Covid-19 cases among foreigners, and also to give priority to Malaysians because of restrictions on numbers and mosque space.

“This pandemic should not be blamed on the migrants but requires us to understand the treatment that we awarded to them has somehow made them vulnerable to this infection,” Farouk said.

“Have we forgotten that the first Muslim community in the history of Islam were basically migrants from the city of Mecca?”

Malaysian Medical Association president Dr N Ganabaskaran said measures to prevent the spread of the virus called for physical distancing, wearing of face masks and maintaining personal hygiene.

The size of a room also needed to be considered. “Confined spaces can increase the risk even with physical distancing. Crowding should be avoided at all times,” he said.

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