Faithful in Iran storm closed shrines

Faithful in Iran storm closed shrines
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Crowds of Iranian demonstrators pushed their way into some of the country's holy shrines Monday evening after health officials ordered them closed due to coronavirus fears.

The Associated Press reported that dozens of protesters stormed the shrines, apparently emboldened by some of the country's Shia clerics who supported the protests.

“We are here to say that Tehran is damn wrong to do that!” one cleric was quoted as saying, according to the AP. Others joined him in chanting: “The health minister is damn wrong to do that, the president is damn wrong to do that!”

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Demonstrations reportedly occurred in the Iranian cities of Qom and Mashhad, the site of two shrines typically open 24 hours per day to Iranians who often kiss or otherwise touch the holy symbols.

Health officials reportedly warned on state television Tuesday that "millions" of people could die in the country from the disease if it is not brought under control, while Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has reportedly banned non-essential travel in the country.

Iran has confirmed more than 14,000 cases of the disease and registered more than 850 deaths amid the outbreak.