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People In Iran Are Licking Shrines To Prove They’re Not Scared Of Coronavirus

People In Iran Are Licking Shrines To Prove They’re Not Scared Of Coronavirus

Journalist Masih Alinejad shared some of the clips, urging the Iranian authorities to close the religious sites

Jess Hardiman

Jess Hardiman

Videos have emerged of people licking shrines in Iran - where coronavirus has the largest death toll outside of China - as proof that they're not afraid of the deadly virus.

According to the John Hopkins Center for Health Security online dashboard, at the time of writing Covid-19 has been responsible for 54 deaths in Iran, the largest number of fatalities after the 2,803 in China, along with 979 confirmed cases.

Videos have been posted to social media showing worshippers licking shrines and saying they 'don't care what happens', or exclaiming: "I am not scared of coronavirus."

One unnamed man was even arrested on 29 February, according to Iranian news site Radio Farda, after being seen licking the shrine of a Shiite saint in Iran's second-largest city, Mashhad.

The judiciary said: "What the detainee did was anomalous, and investigation into his case is underway."

Journalist Masih Alinejad has also shared some of the clips on Twitter, urging the Iranian authorities to close the religious sites.

She wrote: "While the city of Qom is the epicentre of #CoronaVirus in Iran, authorities refuse to close down religious shrines there. These pro-regime people are licking the shrines & encouraging people to visit them. Iran's authorities are endangering lives of Iranians & the world."


In another tweet, she called on the support of the World Health Organisation (WHO), condemning footage of people encouraging 'even their own children to lick the #Coronavirus infested shrines'.

She said: "Not only is this child abuse, but it's also helping the virus spread Iran and to other countries.

"Iran's authorities still adamantly refuse to close these religious sites. The virus is wreaking havoc all over the country."

Some people believe the holy sites of Qom are a place for healing, meaning that touching or even kissing shrines is common practice for pilgrims.

A man disinfects the shrine of Saint Masoumeh against coronavirus in the city of Qom.

However, many Iranians fear the outbreak is not being taken seriously enough on a national level, with Mike Ryan, the head of the World Health Organisation's emergencies programme, warning the virus' impact in Iran could be worse than some realise.

While the government hasn't locked Qom down, it has imposed restrictions including limiting who is allowed in and out of the city.

So far, the outbreak of coronavirus - or Covid-19 as it has now been named officially - has resulted in 3,048 deaths worldwide, with more than 89,000 cases confirmed.

On 28 February, the WHO raised the international risk assessment for Covid-19 from 'high' to 'very high'.

Featured Image Credit: Twitter/MSF

Topics: Iran, World News, News, Coronavirus