Lockdowns and mosque prayer limits: How are Arabs celebrating this Eid?

Lockdowns and mosque prayer limits: How are Arabs celebrating this Eid?
Eid Al-Adha is being celebrated by Muslims in the Arab World on Tuesday, but Covid-19 restrictions are seeing millions abstain from traditional family gatherings.
2 min read
20 July, 2021
Some countries eased Covid restrictions for this year's Eid al-Adha while others stuck to strict measures [Anadolu Agency/Getty Images]

While Muslims around the world celebrate the Eid Al-Adha holiday this week, some Arab countries have banned public prayers and family gatherings altogether as Covid-19 continues to spread.

Mauritania, Tunisia, Lebanon, Morocco, and Oman banned prayers at mosques due to the threat of Covid-19, while Bahrain permitted prayers at only one mosque on the island.

Tunisia is reeling under its worst coronavirus surge since the pandemic began, reporting Africa’s highest per-capita pandemic death toll and currently recording one of the world's highest daily per-capita infection rates.

Authorities in Lebanon have banned large gatherings for religious holidays since Easter, to avoid a repeat of the crisis it faced earlier this year when the country re-opened during the Christmas and New Year season, leading to a surge in new cases.

The pandemic in Oman has seen hospitals struggling to accommodate the sick with the government ordering a full lockdown from Monday evening until early morning Thursday to deal with the crisis.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, Jordan, Palestine, Algeria, Djibouti and Libya all set strict procedures for public prayers.

The Saudi government this year only allowed 60,000 citizens and residents within the kingdom to attend the annual Hajj pilgrimage, with foreign pilgrims barred for a second consecutive year due to the pandemic.

Only certain mosques in Egypt were allowed to carry out prayers, as worshippers were obliged to wear masks, observe social distancing measures, and barred children from accompanying adults.

Similar measures were adopted in Kuwait, Algeria and Djibouti, while Qatar permitted Eid prayers at 900 mosques.

The UAE permitted prayers for a maximum of 15 minutes, banning large gatherings and handshakes, according to the state-run news agency WAM.

In Jordan, prayers were allowed in four large mosques in the capital Amman as well as 1,019 mosques across the country, as authorities called on people to adhere to measures put in place.

While Libya banned prayers inside mosques, it permitted gatherings in outdoor, public spaces.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem saw around 100,000 people gather for Eid prayers for one of Islam’s most important religious ceremonies amid Israeli security measures.

The compound has been the site of repeated Israeli aggression in recent months and the compound was stormed by Israeli forces yesterday.