Mosques in Turkey to resume prayers after several weeks of virus break
As Turkish nationals crawl out of weeks of stay-at-home orders amid the country’s normalization phase, mass prayers in mosques across Turkey will begin with the Friday prayer that will be held on May 28.
The country’s iconic mosques are about to complete their final preparations for mass prayers that will begin after a two-and-a-half-month break.
Istanbul’s world-famous Süleymaniye Mosque, one of the best-known works of the Ottoman-era architect Sinan, was thoroughly disinfected by municipal teams before Friday prayers.
As the teams sprayed the places where there might be high human contact such as rosaries, columns and entrances in the mosque, and prayer rugs, where worshipers would put their hands and foreheads, were also cleaned.
Rosaries were removed from use in the historical mosque where only midday, afternoon and Friday prayers can be performed in the initial normalization phase.
Disinfection works were carried out meticulously in 11 monumental mosques, such as the Blue Mosque, Beyazıt and Yavuz Sultan Selim.
Workers conducted thorough sanitization works in the Sultanahmet Mosque, which is also a major tourist attraction spot on the historical peninsula of the city’s European part.
Another masterpiece of architect Sinan, the Selimiye Mosque in the northwestern province of Edirne, also opens its doors to the faithful, but prayers will be held in the courtyard and garden of the mosque for a while as part of the pandemic measures.
Yusuf Serenli, the preacher of the Selimiye Mosque, said he was eager about the re-opening and explained a series of measures taken in the mosques.
“Cleaning has been ongoing for about two days. Citizens coming to mosques have to bring their own prayer rugs. There will be no entrance to the mosques without a mask,” Serenli said.
A circular was sent to the 81 provinces by the Interior Ministry regarding the opening of mosques and masjids.
According to the statement, only midday, afternoon and Friday prayers will be performed in the mosques and masjids together with the congregation.
However, mosques and masjids will be kept open for those who want to perform individual prayers at other times.
Meanwhile, municipal teams reported that they use cleaning agents approved by the Health Ministry, which have a wide impact on microorganisms, and are not harmful to humans and animals.
On March 19, mosques were closed to worship as part of staunch measures to halt the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that mosques across the country would reopen to worship from May 29 in line with conditions set by local and religious authorities.
Some mosques in Istanbul had been turned into a food bank to help the poor during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shelves usually reserved for the faithful’s shoes were full of packets of pasta, biscuits and bottles of olive oil as millions across the country sheltered in their houses.
The move was done in collaboration with Vefa Social Support Groups, which have been working in Turkey to deliver aid to those in need.