Over 8,600 religious pilgrims gather in Indonesia despite risk of Covid-19 outbreak

They refused an official request from the Indonesian authorities to postpone the event.

Sulaiman Daud | March 18, 2020, 11:16 PM

A Muslim religious event in Indonesia involving thousands of pilgrims from all across Asia will proceed, despite fears that it could result in another severe outbreak of Covid-19.

According to Reuters, the mass gathering, kicked off on March 18 in Gowa near Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi.

Refused to postpone

The event's organisers refused a formal request from the Indonesian authorities to postpone the gathering, according to Arifuddin Saeni, a regional official.

Saeni estimated that 8,695 people had already gathered for the event.

He added that pilgrims from Arabia, Thailand, India and the Philippines have travelled to Indonesia.

Although the regional police chief stated he would attempt to persuade the organisers to call it off, the large numbers of visitors would make things difficult, added Saeni.

"More afraid of God"

Mustari Bahranuddin, one of the event organisers, told Reuters that they are "more afraid of God", when asked about the health risk of the event.

He added there is something more to the body over fears of illnesses and death, which is the soul.

The gathering is organised by members of Tablighi Jama’at, an international, evangelical Muslim movement.

Followers from the same group recently organised a similar event in Malaysia, taking place at the Sri Petaling mosque.

The event, which also attracted thousands of people from countries all over the world, including Singapore, has been identified as a major Covid-19 cluster.

During Malaysia's one-day spike of 190 new cases on March 15, Health Minister Adham Baba said most of these new cases could be traced to that event.

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Top image from Aalmi Tablighi Shura Elders' Facebook page.