Malaysia mosques will reopen to foreign worshippers on Sep 1

Masjid Putra in Putrajaya. Photo: Alex Hudson
Masjid Putra in Putrajaya. Photo: Alex Hudson

Malaysia will lift its ban on foreign worshippers at its mosques on Sep 1. 

Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said today that mosques across the country will allow Muslim foreigners working in Malaysia to pray at the places of worship next week, more than two months after banning them amid rising COVID-19 infections.

“We have decided to allow foreigners who work in this country to pray in mosques beginning Sept. 1, 2020,” the minister said. “Foreigners will have to register themselves before entering the mosques, and the authorities there will have the final say on allowing them into the premises based on maximum capacity.”

All Malaysians are required to provide their personal particulars before entering mosques for contact tracing purposes. Ismail also said that worshippers will no longer be required to bring their own prayer mats, but disposable prayer mats will be provided by the mosques upon request. 

“While the government strongly encourages all Muslims to bring their own prayer mats, it is no longer compulsory,” Ismail said. Currently, all mosques are required to ensure that congregants are positioned a meter apart from each other. 

Mosques reopened on June 12, just two days after Malaysia lifted its nationwide lockdown. However, non-citizens were not allowed to enter mosques amid rising COVID-19 infections. As of Aug 14, around a quarter of total cases had involved foreigners who mostly work in Malaysia. 

The decision to ban foreigners drew criticism from two religious leaders who said that it bordered on xenophobia, noting that Islam does not condone discrimination. 

Malaysia has recorded a total of 9,285 COVID-19 cases, with 11 new infections reported today. The death toll stands at 125. 

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