Tens of thousands of people defied a nationwide coronavirus lockdown in Bangladesh Saturday, April 18, to attend the funeral of a top Islamic preacher, as authorities battle a surge in virus cases.
Police had agreed with the family of Jubayer Ahmad Ansari that only 50 people would attend the funeral in the eastern town of Sarail because of the risk of spreading the disease.
But local police chief Shahadat Hossain said officers were helpless to stop the crowds who came to pay their last respect for the popular 55-year-old preacher and seminary head, who died Friday.
Organizers said about 100,000 attended the funeral.
As of Sunday, Bangaldesh had reported 2,144 confirmed cases of the virus and 84 deaths.
Authorities have conducted few tests and experts say the number of cases is higher than officially recognized. New rules ban more than five people taking part in prayers in the country’s 300,000 mosques.
The prime minister has called on Bangladeshis to pray at home when the Ramadan festival starts this week. But a group of influential clerics has called on Muslims to turn out in their masses for daily prayers.
Last month at least 25,000 people attended a Muslim prayer meeting in a field in the southern city of Raipur to chant “healing verses” to rid the country of the deadly virus. (AFP)