Bodies that arrive for burial are not washed as they should be under Islamic custom. Nor are they wrapped in traditional white cloth. They are covered in hospital plastic, marking them as victims — both young and old — of the coronavirus. As their loved ones are lowered into mass graves, uncles, fathers and daughters say their farewells from far away. There are no fresh flowers, only powdered swaths of lime to mask the scent of decay.
Clerics no longer come to pray over the dead. Instead their voices, like distant ghosts, echo from portable speakers.
Battered by the coronavirus, Iran’s religious Shiite-clerics are abandoning Islamic burial rituals to prevent further infections and stem a rapidly rising death toll. Each day hundreds of new people test positive for the virus. But with infections now hovering above 16,000 and the death toll rising to 988, the lines outside cemeteries lengthen even as state TV warns that millions may perish.