In virus-hit Iraq, shrine visits go virtual


Shafaqna Pakistan: Every year, Maher al-Rubaye would marvel at the gold-leaf walls of Iraq’s Imam Ali mausoleum. He still visits the shrine today — through a screen from his living room.

The spread of the new coronavirus in Iraq has prompted the closure of major mosques to visitors, including the ornate burial place of Ali A.S, the fourth Islamic caliph and relative of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), in the shrine city of Najaf.

Just a few hundred meters from the mausoleum, Rubaye — at home because of lockdown measures — extends one hand towards the sky in prayer and holds his mobile phone with the other.

On the screen flash images of the shrine: its large plaza, the marble floors and intricate calligraphy — and finally, the glittering mausoleum itself.