By Abdul Karim Rozilan
A RALLY of Muslim pilgrims that is drawing thousands of people to Indonesia’s South Sulawesi province has been postponed amid fears that it could help spread the new coronavirus, a local official said.
Authorities had been trying to persuade organisers to stop the event at Gowa near the city of Makassar after a similar event in Malaysia led to hundreds of infections.
According to reports in Reuters, the head of Gowa regency, Adnan Purichta Ichsan, posted on social media late on Wednesday that organisers had “finally agreed” to postpone the event.
“We did not stop communication and coordination with the core committee,” he said, adding that pilgrims would be isolated while arrangements are made for them to leave Gowa.
Earlier reports said that despite calls by the government to restrict movement, some 80 Malaysians are believed to have arrived in Gowa, Makassar in Indonesia to join thousands of Muslim pilgrims at the international tabligh gathering.
According to a Facebook post believed to belong to an organising committee member, about 411 foreigners from nine countries, including Malaysia were at the event.
The New Straits Times reported that a total 8,283 participants are also expected to attend the event from Indonesia’s 29 provinces.
Adnan told CNN Indonesia that the gathering was an annual event but a request had been made for the organisers to postpone this year’s World Ijtima Asia Zone 2020 in light of the Covid-19 outbreak.
He, however, said that the participants had already arrived.
Adnan told the news network that the participants had come from all around Indonesia and that some from countries like Pakistan had been in the country since February.