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Iran bans flights during calls to prayer

Dec. 27, 2012 at 7:26 AM

TEHRAN, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Iran's Civil Aviation Organization announced aircraft will be prohibited from flying across the country during the call to prayer five times a day.

The new directive, announced Wednesday, will also prevent aircraft from taking off until at least 30 minutes after the day's first call to prayer, al-Fajr, at 5:38 a.m., local time, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Hamid Reza Pahlevani, the head of Iran's Civil Aviation Organization, told the Iranian Students' News Agency the move is meant to give air travelers time "to carry out their religious duties." The directive is apparently part of an effort to improve obedience to orthodox Islamic codes of conduct, the Times reported.

The announcement by the aviation organization did not explain how the new rules will affect flight schedules, or whether flights would be forced to land or be rerouted during times of prayer. In Tehran, the five daily calls to prayer are at 5:38 a.m., 12:03 p.m., 2:40 p.m., 4:58 p.m. and 6:23 p.m.

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