Iranian fanatics protest closure of Shiite shrines

People gather outside the closed doors of the Fatima Masumeh shrine in the Shiite city of Qom, Monday. - Courtesy photo

By Yaghoub Fazeli

DUBAI -The closure of Shiite pilgrimage sites in Iran’s cities of Qom and Mashhad as part of the country’s efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus has prompted sit-ins and protests in the t wo cities, according to videos circulating on social media.

Iran closed the Shiite shrines of Imam Reza in Mashhad, Fatima Masumeh in Qom and Shah Abdol-Azim in Tehran on Monday until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Several videos showed protesters demanding authorities to re-open the Fatima Masumeh shrine in Qom, the epicenter of the outbreak.

One video showed angry protesters trying to force their way in through one of the shrine’s entrance doors.

A group of protesters partially damaged one of the shrine’s entrance doors, while another group were able to make it inside chanting religious slogans.

The protesters were eventually dispersed and the shrine’s entrance door was closed again, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

Another video showed protesters staging a sit-in outside the shrine. Men could be heard wailing and crying in the video.

Another video showed security forces desperately attempting to keep angry protesters out of the shrine’s courtyard. ‑ Al Arabiya English