Public criticism comes as Qatar faces an alarming surge in daily coronavirus cases as well as a spike in Covid-19 deaths.
Qatar’s Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs [Awqaf] has faced backlash online for “chaotic” scenes outside mosques across the country that were triggered by its latest changes in safety measures.
— عبدالله الوذين (@abqatar) April 16, 2021
Footage believed to be from April 16th showed crowds of people gathering outside mosques ahead of Friday prayers, raising concerns over the potential spread of Covid-19 at a time of heightened tensions.
The overcrowding follows a decision implemented by the ministry just hours ahead of the weekly Friday prayer, calling on mosques to open their doors just 10 minutes ahead of the second call to prayer during the holy month of Ramadan.
“Will a decision be reconsidered after what we saw?” prominent media personality, Hassan Al Sai tweeted.
Despite urgent calls to change policies to avoid congestion, the ministry has yet to issue a statement to address concerns.
As part of current precautionary measures to curb the spread of coronavirus among community members, prayers commence five minutes after the call to prayer and mosques doors are closed once the facility has reached its full capacity.
Mosques are then closed five minutes following the completion of each prayer to allow for sterilisation and cleaning.
Meanwhile, the nightly Ramadan Taraweeh prayers are prohibited at mosques this year to prevent the spread of the virus.
هل سيعاد النظر في قرار
— حسن الساعي (@Hassan_alsai) April 16, 2021
Concern over the pandemic has in recent months heightened across the country, where an an alarming increase in daily recorded infections, deaths and hospital admissions have been reported.
On Friday, Qatar recorded 978 new infections, raising the number of active cases to 21,965. The Gulf state, now grappling with a second Covid-19 wave, also witnessed its highest death rate in a single day, with a total of 10 recorded fatalities.