Some Senegalese mosques opened their doors on Friday after the government eased coronavirus restrictions, but others judged the rate of infection too high and stayed shut .
Senegalese President Macky Sall said this week that public prayers could resume in the West African country , provided that mosques obey social -distancing rules.
More than 90 percent of Senegal is Muslim and most of the faithful follow Sufi brotherhoods , which retain considerable influence in the nation of 16 million people .
In the seaside capital Dakar on Friday , according to AFP journalists , thousands of worshippers flocked to Massalikul Jinaan mosque — which is one of West Africa ’ s largest and belongs to the powerful Mouride brotherhood .
Mosque spokesman Mor Daga Sylla told AFP that religious authorities had insisted the faithful wash their hands and keep one metre away from one another .
“ We were uncompromising , ” he said .
A similar scene played out in the Dakar suburb of Mbao , where water and soap were placed in front of the local mosque, and the majority of worshippers wore facemasks .
Inside , the mosque’ s imam , Pape Moussa Seck , preached a sermon calling the coronavirus a “ divine ordeal ” caused by religious infractions such as “ the indecent clothing of young girls , assaults, and murders” .
Senegalese authorities have recorded 2 , 310 cases to date , including 25 fatalities.
The numbers are low compared to virus – stricken Europe and the United States .
But as with other poor countries in the region, there are fears that it is ill- equipped to handle a large outbreak .
Some religious institutions in Senegal have remained closed because of the still – present virus threat .
Major mosques in the capital , such as the Dakar Grand Mosque and Cheikh Oumar Foutiyou mosque, said this week that they would not open again , for example , citing health risks .
The Catholic Church in Senegal similarly said this week that masses would not resume.
Despite the easing of restrictions on prayers , other anti – virus measures remain in place.
Senegal has shut schools and borders , restricted travel , and imposed a night – time curfew in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus .
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