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Turkish mosques reopen for mass prayers

Istanbul, May 30 (DNA): Turkish mosques reopened on Friday for mass prayers after more than two months as the government further eased strict restrictions to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

Turkey has been shifting since May to a “new normal” by easing lockdown measures and opening shopping malls, barbershops and hair salons.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said many other sites — restaurants and cafes as well as libraries, parks and beaches — will reopen from Monday.

Hundreds of worshippers wearing protective masks performed mass prayers outside Istanbul’s historic Blue Mosque for the first time since mosques were shut down in March.

In the Ottoman-era Fatih mosque, worshippers prayed both inside and outside, with the municipality handing out disinfectants and disposable carpets.

Gulcek Uyanik, 55, was exultant.

“I have waited a lot for this, I have prayed a lot. I can say it’s like a new birth, thanks to God, he has brought us back here,” he said.

Another worshipper, Asum Tekif, 50, said: “It has a been a long time… we missed the mosques.”

Turkey, a country of 83 million, has so far recorded 4,489 coronavirus-related deaths and 162,120 confirmed cases.

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