A COUNCIL boss said a street gathering for Eid prayers was seen as ‘a serious breach of the national lockdown’.

Footage circulating on social media shows dozens of men gathering to pray in the Whalley Range area of Blackburn on Sunday, the last day of Ramadan.

It is understood that more than one such meeting took place, with one group of worshippers choosing to gather close to St Michael’s Street.

In doing so, the groups decided to go against repeated advice issued by both the council and police urging those celebrating Eid to do so inside their own home this year as the country battles to fight off the threat of Covid-19.

Blackburn with Darwen council bosses have now confirmed that no permission was given for the gathering, with the lead for adult services Sayeed Osman saying he was ‘very disappointed’ to learn the street prayers had taken place.

He said: “Only a very small minority chose to congregate on the street for prayers on the last Friday of Ramadan and on Eid day.

“No permission was given for any such gathering, and we see this as a serious breach of the national lockdown, as well as statutory powers for which the council is responsible, including the Highways Act, Public Health Act, and Public Protection Act.

“We are working with the police to take action against the individual who organised the gatherings to ensure this does not happen again.

“It’s very disappointing and goes against the spirit of Muslim unity in Blackburn with Darwen, as well as the local partners who have been working together to reduce the spread of coronavirus during Ramadan.

“We have contacted all mosques in Blackburn with Darwen to reiterate that all places of worship remain closed and congregational prayers are not allowed, in line with government guidance.”

However it is understood that most Eid celebrations took place inside homes over the weekend, with Blackburn with Darwen police taking to Facebook at the time to thank the Muslim community for their cooperation.

A spokesman for the force said: “We have spoken to the organiser to remind him of the Government guidance.

“This is a proportionate response in line with the stance we have adopted throughout with all our communities around engaging, explaining and encouraging before taking any enforcement action.

“We have worked closely with our partners on this issue and would highlight that there is very clear guidance and advice given by Lancashire Council of Mosques and Lancashire Resilience Forum and also Blackburn with Darwen Council and stress that this has not changed.

“We would like to thank all our communities for the overwhelming support and adherence to working within the guidance from Government and under the direction of Public Health.”

Abdul Hamid Qureshi, former chairman of Lancashire Council of Mosques, added that anyone found to be breaking lockdown rules needed to be taken to task.

He himself spent a week in hospital in April after contracting the coronavirus.

He said: “Lancashire Council of Mosques has been one of the leading organisations in the country when it comes to issuing advice and support within the Muslim community throughout the outbreak - they have led the way.

“However when you see that some people have adopted such an extreme approach it is hugely disappointing.

“The way the vast majority of Muslims have cooperated across Lancashire has been brilliant and this is a very negative thing to have done.

“The risk they are bringing to not only themselves but other people is what I find the hardest to understand.

“Those involved need to be condemned.”