More than 15,000 Ezidis participated in religious ceremonies without following the necessary measures meant to slow down the COVIS-19 outbreak, including the use of masks and medical gloves.
The Sharafadin Jama ceremony is a two-day religious event that started on Thursday (6 August), at the Sharafadin Shrine with the participation of thousands of Ezidis.
The shrine is located about 12 kilometres north of Shingal and is the second holiest religious site for Ezidis after the Lalish Temple.
Pictures and video footage of the processions showed that no preventive measures were taken by the participants, while there has been a remarkable increase in Coronavirus infection cases in recent weeks.
Muhsin Ido, one of the participants in the ceremony, told KirkukNow: "We participated with a number of my friends without wearing masks and gloves, neither did most of the other participants."
Scenes of the Sharafadin Jama ceremony – Video exclusively sent to KirkukNow
The Jama Shafadin event includes a variety of religious rituals and ceremonies. The youths attend these ceremonies to pray for themselves, their families and the return of the kidnapped Ezidis, according to Muhsin Ido.
Regarding ignoring the preventive measures, Muhsen Ido told KirkukNow: "We fully believe in the existence of the Corona pandemic, but thank God there are no infections in Shingal."
There aren’t any COVID-19 infection ceases anymore in Shingal, but the infection rate in the rest of the Nineveh Province is on the rise. According to numbers announced by the Iraqi Ministry of Health on Friday (7 August), one death, 297 new cases, and 85 recoveries were registered in that province.
Kamal Murad, director of health department of Shingal’s Snuni district, told KirkukNow: "Unfortunately, the efforts we have made are about to be rendered futile due to the lack of commitment by the people. We have repeatedly called to stay away from gatherings and to wear masks and gloves during religious ceremonies."
Murad warned that the presence of even one person carrying the Coronavirus in the ceremonies of Sharafadin Jama "will create a great disaster in Shingal and hundreds of people will be infected.”
The ceremony is held at a time when Iraqi government has ordered the closure of mosques, temples and churches as part of the preventive measures against the spread of COVID-19.
Kherhat Bahri, son the caretaker of the Sharafadin Shrine, told KirkukNow that 10,000 people participated in the ceremonies on the first day, and more than 5,000 participated on the second day.
“We asked several entities to provide us with masks and gloves to distribute to the participants, but we did not get these supplies,” Kherhat said, adding: “I do not see any risks, because there is no Coronavirus in Shingal. The participants are residents of the district itself and we do not allow anyone from outside the district to participate."
On the first day of the Sharafadin Jama, various religious ceremonies are held including religious recitations. And on the second day, those who can afford it, let a lamb or more be slaughtered and distribute the meat among the poor and participants in the ceremony.