Earlier this morning, 20 July, more than 200 Muslims gathered outside Surau Taman Pelangi in Juru, Penang for the Aidiladha prayer.
They observed physical distancing and left after praying at about 9am.
New Straits Times reported that the surau is one of the many in Penang that has been granted permission to hold Friday prayers as well as Aidiladha prayer with the capacity of 100 people.
While Penang has entered into Phase 2 of the National Recovery Plan (NRP), the Penang Islamic Religious Council (MAINPP) still maintains certain restrictions on gatherings at places of worship.
The congregation, believed to be mainly foreigners, gathered today exceeded the capacity.
According to Penang police chief Datuk Mohd Shuhaily Mohd Zain, a preliminary investigation has revealed that the surau was already swarmed with hundreds even before the prayer started at 8.30am.
He said that while the surau management ordered them to leave in order to meet its capacity, the management did not disperse the crowd that had gathered outside its gate for the Aidiladha prayer.
"They also did not alert the police to the matter. This resulted in more than 200 people, mainly foreigners, gathering spontaneously outside the surau for the Aidiladha prayer, whilst observing physical distancing. They left after prayers about 9am," New Straits Times quoted Mohd Shuhaily as saying.
A video of the gathering recorded by a member of the public has since gone viral.
Mohd Shuhaily said that while the incident happened spontaneously, this did not mean that the authorities will not investigate the matter
"Police will still investigate if the gathering outside the surau was pre-planned," he added.
The case is being probed under Section 269 and 270 of the Penal Code.
According to him, police will be identifying those featured in the video before taking any action.
Mohd Shuhaily specified that their priority was to look for those who flouted the SOPs.
"We are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic now and we hope everyone will abide by the standard operating procedures SOPs) set. Rest assured, we will find those who were shown on the video footage," he said.
He also apologised for failing to prevent the gathering.
"On behalf of the police, I want to sincerely apologise to the people of Penang for having failed to detect this morning's incident earlier. I have also issued a reminder to all management of mosques and suraus statewide to alert the police of such incidents in future. They can call us at 04-2221722."
Remember to limit your movement and keep practising physical distancing. Watch the latest update on the COVID-19 situation:
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