Turkish mosques reopen for mass prayers

Turkish mosques on Friday reopened for mass prayers more than two months after they had shutdown, as the government eased restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

Worshippers wearing protective facemasks maintain the required social distance during the Friday prayer outside The Fatih Mosque in Istanbul on May 29, 2020, now open for prayers, amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus. - Worshippers in Turkey have held their first communal Friday prayers in 74 days after the government re-opened some mosques as part of its plans to ease measures taken to fight the coronavirus outbreak. Prayers were held in the courtyards of some mosques, to minimise the risk of infection. Bulent Kilic / AFP
Turkey has been shifting since May to a "new normal" by loosening lockdown measures and opening shopping malls, barbers and hair salons.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said many other sites -- restaurants and cafes as well as libraries, parks and beaches -- will reopen from Monday.

Hundreds of worshippers wearing protective masks performed mass prayers outside Istanbul's historic Blue Mosque for the first time since mosques were shut down in March.

In Fatih mosque, worshippers prayed both inside and outside, with the municipality handing out disinfectants and disposable carpets.

Gulcek Uyanik, 55, expressed his gratitude at being able to resume mass prayers.

"I have waited a lot for this, I  have prayed a lot. I can say it's like a new birth, thanks to God, he has brought us back here," he said.

Another worshipper, Asum Tekif, 50, said: "It has a been a long time, it has been two months, we missed the mosques."

Turkey, a country of 83 million, has so far recorded 4,461 coronavirus-related deaths and nearly 161,000 confirmed cases.

Topics: Recep Tayyip Erdogan , Mosque , COVID-19 , Blue Mosque , Islam
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