March 22, 2020 / 6:07 PM / 6 days ago

Prayers at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound suspended - statement

JERUSALEM, March 22 (Reuters) - Muslim prayers at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound will be suspended starting Monday and until further notice in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus, religious officials said on Sunday.

“It was decided to suspend the arrival of worshippers to prayers through all the gates to Al-Aqsa mosque starting Monday,” said a statement issued by the Jordanian Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs.

Contacted by Reuters, the Palestinian director of the mosque, Sheikh Omar Kisawni, confirmed the decision. It is the third holiest site in Islam, after Mecca and Medina.

Earlier this month clerics closed the doors of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the adjoining Dome of the Rock, but allowed worshippers to gather outside in the open areas of the Old City compound known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) and to Jews as the Temple Mount. (Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi and Ali Sawafta; Writing by Maayan Lubell)

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