As Riyadh declared four new deaths from the MERS coronavirus and 18 new infections on Thursday, a Saudi cleric has claimed that he has found a cure for the deadly virus, prompting ridicule on social media.
Abdullah al-Amrani told al-Hayat newspaper in an interview published Tuesday that he had “succeeded” in finding an herbal cure derived from Islamic medicinal practices.
“I am confident of its effectiveness and [its] ability to cure stubborn diseases and viruses including MERS,” Amrani said, adding that he tried his medicine one two patients – one with AIDS and the other with Leukemia – and both were relieved of their ailments.
The claim sparked ridicule on Twitter with one user joking that it’s part of the religious clergy’s business expansion to health sector.
“You have expanded your business from trading on religion to health and medicine, but please don’t say you have a cure of MERS or AIDS,” the Twitter user said.
“God willing, the Virus will disappear soon thanks to the discovery of the preacher from Tabuk,” another Twitter user remarked.
The preacher is not the only cleric to issue a statement on the virus that has so far killed 121 people in Saudi Arabia.
Last week, a cleric derided people for wearing protective face masks, saying the measure won’t help.
“I went to the airport yesterday and I saw a big number of people who were wearing masks, I go to the market and I see people wearing them as well,” Mohammad al-Arifit said during his Friday prayer sermon.
“The disease doesn’t even spread in the air anyways. If there was an infected person who was standing in front of you and [they] sneezed or coughed, and if he was close enough, you will get infected,” he said.
“But if you are [standing] far way, the disease is heavy, it falls on the ground. Viruses do not fly and get inside your nose.”
But Arifi added: “Some people wearing the masks [ma] even get infected because of it.”
This has some irked observers, who say that advice should only be given by medical professionals.
A writer for the London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper told Al Arabiya News Channel that discussing MERS and its treatment should only be done with the relevant professionals.
Fahad al-Shagrani said Saudi Arabia’s council of senior scholars are the exclusive issuers of religious edicts, and only they should have the right to issue edicts concerning the MERS virus and preventative measures.
Shagrani emphasized that the council has specialized committees to issue edicts when it comes to such situations.
“What is happening is that some people are talking about [it] when they shouldn’t be talking,” he said.
The writer said that clerics who make statements on the MERS virus independently of Saudi authorities will only “confuse society, and belittle the medical sciences.”