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Women urged not to visit mosques

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WOMEN will be stopped from entering mosques in a bid to ensure the safety of worshippers following twin bomb attacks targeting Shi'ite mosques in Saudi Arabia.

Mosques across Bahrain were yesterday officially informed of the precautionary measure enforced by Jaffari Waqf (Endowment) Directorate chairman Shaikh Mohsen Al Asfoor.

It comes after terrorist group, the Islamic State (IS), claimed responsibility for last Friday's attack, in which a suicide bomber disguised as a woman blew himself up outside Al Anoud Mosque in Dammam, killing himself and three others.

It was the second attack of its kind in Saudi Arabia within a week, as IS claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at a Shi'ite mosque in Qatif city that killed 21 people on May 22.

'We urge women not to pray in mosques because of the recent developments especially after the mosque attacks in Saudi Arabia,' urged Shaikh Al Asfoor.

'Such security measures are taken for the safety of everyone because it is difficult to place checks on women who come to pray in mosques.'

He said he also contacted ma'atam owners to report suspicious activities or behaviour to the police during religious festivities taking place this week to mark mid-Shaaban month.

'If they notice anything suspicious ma'atam owners should immediately inform the police,' he added.

The Capital Governorate has also been approached to ban cars from entering Manama during the festivities.

Meanwhile, Sunni Islamic scholar Shaikh Salah Al Jowder also urged Sunni women not to attend mass prayers at mosques as a precaution.

'The situation is tense in the region especially with the attack on mosques in Saudi Arabia, which means we in Bahrain should be prepared to deter any attempts to divide our society,' he said yesterday.

'These fanatics are deliberately targeting mosques along with Sunni and Shi'ite people who go there for prayers, especially before Ramadan.

'The problem is that these radical men disguise themselves as women by wearing abayas as no one will check them and blow themselves up in the mosques.

'We in Bahrain have been affected by radical groups who targeted a mosque in Riffa in 2013.'

A booby-trapped car exploded in the parking area of the Shaikh Isa bin Salman mosque in West Riffa on the evening of July 17 as worshippers were performing special evening prayers.

No one was injured but the bomb, a combination of gas cylinders and homemade explosives, destroyed the vehicle.

Shaikh Al Jowder said plainclothes policewomen could be placed inside mosques to search female worshippers. 'I will speak to other Sunni clerics to encourage women to pray at home and not in mosques until the situation improves,' he added.

The GDN reported yesterday that Interior Minister Lieutenant General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa met Shaikh Al Asfoor, Sunni Endowment chairman Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa and Reverend Hani Aziz of the National Evangelical Church to promote tolerance and urge young people to stay away from extremists who promote Jihad calls.

'I have spoken to pastors of different churches to promote peace and tolerance and if they suspect anything unusual they should immediately report it to the police,' Rev Aziz told the GDN yesterday.

He added that churches in Bahrain would continue holding masses and other activities for worshippers.


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