Numerous video clips surfaced on Twitter over the last few days that, according to a top research organization, shows Iranians licking Islamic shrines believed to be infected with coronavirus to prove that they are not afraid of the epidemic, some declaring that they hope they are infected.
The Middle East Media Research Institute, a non-partisan organization that specializes in tracking down extremist content online, highlighted several of the clips that allegedly showed Iranians licking the shrine.
“Iranians have posted several videos on social media, featuring devout Shiites licking holy shrines in defiance of the coronavirus. In some of the videos, worshippers say they are licking the shrines in order to infect themselves, thus protecting future pilgrims to the shrines from contracting the virus,” the Middle East Media Research Institute reported. “On March 1, 2020, a pilgrim posted a video of himself licking the steel bars protecting the window of a Shiite shrine.”
“If there are diseases or microbes there, let them enter our bodies and the bodies of our children, so that nothing happens to the pilgrims visiting Imam Reza,” one of the men who licks a shrine states.
Iranians Lick Shiite Shrines in Defiance of Coronavirus Threats; Iranian-Islamic Medicine Expert: I Will Cure It pic.twitter.com/K39rZb55oe
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) March 1, 2020
The video clips surfaced around the same time that Iranian health officials have given a vastly different account of the dire situation from the coronavirus in the Islamic nation.
The Iranian government has downplayed the virus, stating that only a few dozen people had died from it while a few hundred had been infected.
Some Iranian government officials have come forward and said that the government is lying about how bad the situation is, while the BBC and a New York Times correspondent reported Thursday that well over 200 people have died and up to 15,000 people had been infected.
TRANSCRIPT [According to a transcription by MEMRI]:
MAN #1: This is the steel window in the Ali ibn Musa Al-Reza shrine. Millions of people have come here and touched it from remote villages, from cities, from streets, from countries, and continents. I’ve heard that some of the enemies of the family of the Prophet have recently spread rumors that the shrine and this window contracted corona, AIDS, hepatitis, and such nonsense. So I have come to lick the window of Imam Reza’s shrine so that the disease enters my body and you would be able to make the pilgrimage peacefully. I have now eaten the corona disease. May you now come to visit our beloved.
MAN #2: He kissed it, licked it, and spread it on his eyes. If there are diseases or microbes there, let them enter our bodies and the bodies of our children, so that nothing happens to the pilgrims visiting Imam Reza.
MAN #3: This place has become full of corona. Look, I’m licking it so that all the corona enters my body. Let all the corona come to me.
MAN #4: I have come to Qom. At the mosque as well in private meetings, we will kiss everybody. We will meet with everybody. We will go to the Fatima Masuma Shrine. We will go everywhere and will do everything, and we will show everything the [coronavirus] is nothing but stories. They want to take away our religion. They want to harm us. What they are doing is meaningless. We won’t listen to this. Besides, what kind of disease is this that you blow it out of proportions? Is there any problem to cure it? I am ready to personally go where the infected people are. I will start treating them there and you will see how fast they are cured. It hasn’t been proven yet that the deaths are caused by corona. Someone is about to die, he gets the ‘corona’ cold and dies. I heard of two or three cases [of people], who were said to have died. I asked and was told that they had been sick for a long time. They had been on medication and would eat one kilogram of chemical meds every day.