Grand Mosque in Makkah drops social distancing; people pray shoulder-to-shoulder

News Network
October 17, 2021

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Makkah, Oct 17: The Grand Mosque in the Muslim holy city of Makkah in Saudi Arabia operated at full capacity Sunday, with worshippers praying shoulder-to-shoulder for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Workers removed floor markings that guide people to social distance in and around the Grand Mosque, which is built around the Ka’aba, the black cubic structure towards which Muslims around the world pray.

"This is in line with the decision to ease precautionary measures and to allow pilgrims and visitors to the Grand Mosque at full capacity," reported the official Saudi Press Agency.

Pictures and footage on Sunday morning showed people praying side by side, making straight rows of worshippers that are formations revered in performing Muslim prayers, for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold last year.

While social distancing measures were lifted, the authorities said visitors must be fully vaccinated against coronavirus and must continue to wear masks on mosque grounds.

Also, the Ka’aba remained cordoned off and out of reach.

Saudi Arabia announced in August it will begin accepting vaccinated foreigners wanting to make the umrah pilgrimage.

The umrah can be undertaken at any time and usually draws millions from around the globe, as does the annual hajj, which abled-bodied Muslims who have the means must perform at least once in their lifetime.

In July, only around 60,000 inoculated residents were allowed to take part in a vastly scaled-down form of the annual hajj.

The Covid-19 pandemic hugely disrupted both Muslim pilgrimages, which are usually key revenue earners for the kingdom that rake in a combined $12 billion annually.

Hosting the pilgrimages is a matter of prestige for Saudi rulers, for whom the custodianship of Islam's holiest sites is their most powerful source of political legitimacy.

The once-reclusive kingdom began issuing tourist visas permitting foreign visitors to undertake more than just the pilgrimages for the first time in 2019 as part of an ambitious push to revamp its global image and diversify income.

Between September 2019 and March 2020, it issued 400,000 of them -- only for the pandemic to crush that momentum as borders were closed.

But the kingdom is slowly opening up and has started welcoming vaccinated foreign tourists since August 1.

Saudi Arabia also announced that fully-inoculated sports fans will from Sunday be allowed to attend events at all stadiums and other sports facilities, reported SPA.

It has also been said that masks in most open spaces are no longer mandatory.

Saudi Arabia has registered over 547,000 coronavirus cases and 8,760 deaths.

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News Network
July 10,2024

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Mangaluru: BJP leader and Mangaluru City North MLA Bharath Shetty has been booked for his alleged comments against Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Rahul Gandhi, police said on Wednesday.

At a press conference here, Mangaluru City Police Commissioner Anupam Agarwal said that an FIR has been filed by the police in Kavoor police station over the complaint lodged by K Anil, a Congress corporator of the Mangaluru City Corporation.

In the complaint, the Congress corporator alleged that MLA Bharath Shetty had made a provocative statement taking the name of Rahul Gandhi.

Mr Agarwal said an investigation is on.

Meanwhile, Congress party workers and leaders on Wednesday continued their tirade against Mr Shetty over his remarks against their party leader.

At a gathering in Surathkal on Sunday, the BJP MLA, who represents Mangaluru City North had stated that Mr Gandhi should be "arrested inside Parliament and slapped". This statement had gone viral, and Congress leaders and workers expressed their displeasure over it in the media and on social media.

Addressing a press conference, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) Working President Manjunath Bhandary took a dig at the BJP MLA asking, "How will he enter Parliament? Will he carry a weapon to attack the Leader of the Opposition? Is Shetty a terrorist?" He further said, "I am certain that Bharath Shetty cannot even talk straight to a common worker of the Congress party, let alone confront Rahul Gandhi." 

Mr Bhandary attributed the main cause of BJP leaders' and legislators' outburst at Rahul Gandhi to Prime Minister Narendra Modi referring to the Congress leader as 'balak buddhi' (childish). This term must be expunged, he added.

He said that due to the behaviour of BJP MLAs in Dakshina Kannada district in recent days, "we are ashamed to elect MLAs from the coast". He accused the BJP of plotting riots because they "cannot accept the presence of the Congress government in the state".

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News Network
July 16,2024

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A shooting near a mosque in Oman killed at least four people and wounded several others in a rare act of violence in the Gulf nation.

The attack early on Tuesday took place in Wadi al-Kabir, a district east of the capital city, Muscat, during a major religious event for Shia Muslims.

Video from the scene shows people fleeing near the Imam Ali Mosque, its minaret visible, as gunfire rings out followed by a voice saying, “Oh God!”

Omani police said they’re taking “all necessary security measures and procedures … to handle the situation”. They gave an initial casualty toll of four killed and “several” injured.

“The authorities are continuing to gather evidence and conduct investigations to uncover the circumstances surrounding the incident,” police said on social media platform X.

No motive or potential suspects were identified in the attack. A state of emergency was declared in the area.

‘Remain vigilant’

It appears some of the victims were Pakistani expats as Pakistan’s ambassador “visited three hospitals and met with the wounded”, an embassy statement said, adding, “all Pakistanis residing in Oman are requested to cooperate with the authorities”.

The US Embassy in Muscat issued a security alert following the shooting and cancelled all visa appointments on Tuesday.

“US citizens should remain vigilant, monitor local news, and heed directions of local authorities,” the embassy wrote on X.

Such an attack is rare in Oman, a frequent regional mediator with a low crime rate. It comes during the Muslim day of Ashura when Shia Muslims commemorate the seventh-century battlefield martyrdom of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Muhammad.

Many Shia mark Ashura by performing a pilgrimage to Imam Hussein’s shrine in the Iraqi city of Karbala. Sunni Muslims commemorate the day through fasting. 

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July 8,2024

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Mangaluru: The community mourns the loss of Assayyid Fazal Haamid Koyamma Thangal Koorath, the Qadhi of Ullal, who passed away on the morning of Monday, July 8, 2024, at Ettikulam in Kerala’s Kannur district.

Fondly known as 'Koorath Thangal', the 65-year-old spiritual leader has left behind a legacy cherished by hundreds of thousands of devoted followers.

Koorath Thangal had been serving as the Qadhi of Ullal since 2014, following the passing of his father, the revered Tajul Ulama Assayyidd Abdurrahman Al Bukhari Thangal, who had served as the Qadhi of Ullal for decades.

In his final moments, Thangal was preparing to embark on a journey to Ullal to attend the foundation stone laying ceremony for a new hostel building for students of Syed Madani Shariat College at the Ullal Syed Madani Dargah premises. Tragically, he succumbed to a sudden cardiac arrest before he could leave his residence.

Arrangements have been made for people to pay their last respects at Ettikulam, Kannur until 2 PM, after which further arrangements will be made in Ullal. His final rites will be performed at Koorath in Kadaba taluk.

The loss of Koorath Thangal is deeply felt, and his memory will be honored by all who were touched by his wisdom and kindness.

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