Iranian Shi'ite eulogist Nariman Panahi said in a video that was uploaded to the Iranian website aghigh.ir on February 24, 2020 that although the group he belongs to seeks martyrdom and still wishes to be "cut to pieces" for the sake of the Prophet Muhammad's family, they are canceling their religious mourning meetings because of the coronavirus outbreak. He said that even when his group appeared before Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on February 15, bodyguards prevented people from kissing Khamenei's hand, seemingly in order to protect him from coronavirus. Panahi's statement is noteworthy because it wasn't until February 19 that the Iranian government confirmed that there were cases of coronavirus in Iran.
Nariman Panahi: "Because of the virus that appeared now and has caused everybody to worry, we saw fit to cancel the Maktab Al-Hussein mourning meetings for a while. We did this because it is imperative to protect people's lives. We should not take anything lightly. Some people complained: 'Why did you cancel it? Are you not martyrdom seekers?' True. We seek martyrdom. But where? In what way? I said right from the start: We were in the Iran-Iraq War and we were seeking martyrdom. And we seek it now, as well. Our only hope is to be martyred for the sake of the Prophet Muhammad's family. We still wish to be cut to pieces. But it would be unwise not to take precautions against a disease you know is coming.
"Even when we appeared before the Leader [on February 15], his bodyguards would not let us kiss his hand. Why? Was he being disrespectful towards us? Absolutely not. It is imperative to protect the life of the Leader."