Get nod before closing masjid – Minister

BUTTERWORTH – The action to close or postpone all religious activities in masjid and surau in Targeted Enhanced Movement Control Order (TEMCO) areas depend on the advice of the National Security Council (NSC) and the Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH).

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Senator Datuk Seri Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri said the standard operating procedure (SOP) related to congregational prayers is very firm.

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He said the SOP clearly stated that the closures of masjid and surau would be made on the advice of the National Security Council (NSC) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) based on current and local public interest in the event of a plague in an area.

“This has been done in Kedah and Perlis as one of the ways to check the spread of the epidemic.

“That is based on the close co-operation between the state government, NSC and MOH. We strongly agree based on the SOP that we have set,” he told a press conference after officiating the 2020 North Zone Level Takmir (religious teachers) Mosque and Surau Teachers Convention, here, today.

He said this when asked if there was a need to close all surau and masjid in the TEMCO area following the spread of COVID-19 infection from the Sivagangga Cluster.

Yesterday, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba confirmed that only three states, namely, Kedah, Perlis and Pulau Pinang, recorded individuals who were positive COVID-19 from the Sivagangga cluster.

Meanwhile, Zulkifli said takmir teachers should play a role in providing understanding on Islamic religious affairs to the community by enlivening masjid and surau.

“The Takmir teachers are among the main components which should play a role. I do not want the mosque to be empty, stiff and without programmes. We want the community to be given a good understanding (of Islam).

‘’Therefore, I call on the residents of villages, housing areas and towns to attend when takmir teachers come to give religious talks in order to get knowledge understanding and wisdom from them, “he added.

In another development, he said his party had drawn up several specific programmes for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) in an effort to provide understanding and awareness to the group, especially on Islamic religious affairs.

“I myself will hold discussions with them. At the same time JAKIM (Department of Islamic Development Malaysia), JAWI (Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department) and I will also collaborate with the states so that we can boost their (LGBT) awareness especially on matters of our religion, “he said. –BERNAMA