While in the United States Donald Trump has banned travel from most European countries, in the Middle East the Islamic State terrorist organization has also now issued edicts restricting its own fighters from travel to and from countries that have been stricken by the coronavirus pandemic.
In an edition of the Islamic State newspaper al-Naba published earlier this week, the terrorist group advised its members to “refrain from entering virus-hit states,” adding that “infected” IS terrorists “should not exit them,” as quoted by the Saudi Arabia-based news service Al-Arabiya.
The list of measures to be taken in order to avoid contracting coronavirus is largely similar to the precautions urged by most health organizations and governments, and includes such advice as “stay away from sick people,” as well as hand-washing, and covering the mouth while sneezing or coughing.
But unlike the advice offered by the various health groups, the Islamic State also counsels members to “put trust in God and seek refuge in Him from illnesses,” according to writer Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, who posted a full translation of the al-Naba article on his blog earlier this week.
“It’s the thing you’ve all been waiting for,” Al-Tamimi wrote on Twitter, as quoted by Al-Arabiya. “The Islamic State’s advice on dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.”
Avoiding illness is an obligation for Muslims under Islamic law, according to the al-Naba article, which advices IS members to “flee from the one afflicted with leprosy as you flee from the lion.” Presumably, the same directive that applies to leprosy applies to other illnesses, such as the coronavirus-caused COVID-19.
Like most areas of the world, the coronavirus pandemic has reached the Middle East. In Iraq, where the Islamic State operates, 79 cases including eight deaths have been reported.
But experts believe the true totals of coronavirus cases in Iraq could be much higher than the official figures, according to a report by The Daily Mail newspaper.
Syria, where the Islamic State previously based its self-styled capital, has not reported any cases of coronavirus. But with an eight-year civil war continuing to rage in that country and the central Syrian government controlling only portions of its territory, numbers out of Syria are considered unreliable, according to the Mail report.
But numerous other Middle Eastern countries have reported cases, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Oman, and Kuwait. But by far the worst-hit country is Iran, where approximately 10,000 cases have been reported with 429 deaths — numbers that experts believe may represent only a fraction of the actual Iranian totals. Nonetheless, only China and Italy have reported more deaths from the pandemic than Iran.