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Mob Attacks Police Amid Friday Prayers’ Coronavirus Curfew

Police officers forcing a rickshaw driver to stop working during a nation-wide lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the southern city of Hyderabad in Sindh Province on April 3.

A mob pelted police vehicles with stones and attacked officers as they attempted to enforce a complete curfew to prevent people congregating during Friday Prayers in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi.

Videos circulating on social media from the southern port city show a mob chasing police patrol vehicles in Karachi’s teeming Liaqatabad neighborhood on April 3.

“Today when police reportedly tried to stop a Friday prayer congregation at a mosque forcibly in Karachi’s Liaquatabad residents reacted violently,” Zia ur-Rehman, a Karachi-based journalist wrote on Twitter.

In a bid to stop people from congregating for Friday Prayers, authorities in the southern province of Sindh, where Karachi is the capital, had imposed a three-hour curfew. While most mosques and religious leaders followed the noon to 3 p.m. curfew, one Islamic cleric in Liaqatabad allegedly opposed it and called on his congregates to defy the ban.

The ban came after last week when many mosques defied government requests to postpone Friday congregations to help in stop the spread of coronavirus infections. Last week, a government order calling on clerics to keep their congregations limited to five people was widely ignored.

Friday Prayers are seen as a key religious obligation in most Muslim countries, but many nations have stopped such gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 50,000 people globally among more the 1 million confirmed cases.

Authorities in Sindh were the first to announce a lockdown more than a week ago. But unlike the previous Friday, they ordered all businesses to close for three hours in an effort to prevent people from leaving their houses during the hours when Friday Prayers are typically offered.

Sindh, Pakistan’s second-largest province, had nearly 800 cases out of more 2,500 cases in Pakistan, which is the second-highest tally after neighboring India. But compared with Pakistan’s 210 million population, India has 1.3 billion people. At least 37 people in Pakistan have died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus infection.

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