Ramadan gatherings may be banned in Iran, supreme leader says

Ramadan gatherings may be banned in Iran, supreme leader says
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Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Thursday that the country may ban public gatherings during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan as Iranian health officials work to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The Associated Press reported that Khamenei made the remarks during a televised address, advising citizens to pray in their homes instead of attending mosques and other holy sites, which have been temporarily shuttered.

“We are going to be deprived of public gatherings of the month of Ramadan,” Khamenei reportedly said. “Those gatherings are meetings for praying to God or listening to speeches which are really valuable. In the absence of these meetings, remember to heed your prayers and devotions in your lonesomeness.”

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Ramadan is observed between late April and late May, and involves participants fasting before sundown, when families often gather.

Iran's health officials have confirmed more than 64,000 cases of the virus and 4,100 deaths. It has urged an end to U.S. sanctions amid the crisis, asserting that the economic sanctions prevent needed medical supplies from reaching the country.

The country's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, referred to the U.S. policy of economic sanctions as "economic terrorism" in March.

“While other nations debate how to control the spread of the virus — and while their economies suffer and fear takes hold among their populations — our people not only suffer from its effects without the full benefits of adequate medical equipment and supplies, but also the many other ways in which U.S. economic terrorism had devastated many households prior to the inception of COVID-19, and only made worse since its arrival in Iran,” he said.