May 19, 2020 / 11:50 AM / 19 days ago

Prayers at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound to resume next week - statement

FILE PHOTO: Muslim worshippers pray near the closed gate of the compound housing Al-Aqsa mosque, known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City, for Ramadan prayers, as mosques were closed due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) around the country April 27, 2020. Picture taken April 27, 2020 REUTERS/Ammar Awad

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Muslim prayers at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound will resume next week after a nearly two-month pause now that the spread of the new coronavirus has slowed, a religious council said on Tuesday.

In a statement, the Council of Islamic Waqf said the restriction on outdoor prayer at the site would be lifted after the Muslim holiday of Eid El-Fitr marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. Eid El-Fitr is due to start on Saturday or Sunday.

On March 15, religious officials closed al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock, and a week later also banned worshippers from gathering in open areas of the holy hilltop compound, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount.

It was not immediately clear whether worshippers would also be allowed back into al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock next week. A Palestinian religious official in Jerusalem said further details would be released at a later date.

Reporting by Ali Sawafta; Writing by Nidal Almughrabi; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Steve Orlofsky

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