Italian Muslims spend second Ramadan amid pandemic

Italian Muslims spend second Ramadan amid pandemic
Muslims, wearing face masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus, attend prayers for Eid Al-Fitr, the feast of breaking the fast, marking the end of Ramadan, Piazza Vittorio, Rome, May 2020. (AP Photo)

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ROME: Some 2.5 million Muslims in Italy will spend their second Ramadan under restrictions in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The Union of Islamic Communities in Italy (Ucooi) has instructed mosques and prayer centers in the country to ensure that all coronavirus-related rules, including the national curfew, are fully respected. In order to respect the 10 p.m. curfew, nighttime prayers will end by 9:30 p.m.

“We appeal to avoid crowds at the entrance and exit of places of worship, provide the faithful with masks and disinfectant gel, and not to bring children. We also ask everyone to bring their own prayer mat,” said Ucooi President Yassine Lafram.

“We will miss the social dimension of Ramadan very much as there will be no visits to families, and sermons and lessons will take place only online. We have adapted to the current situation.”

However, some Muslims say this year’s Ramadan will be better celebrated than in 2020, when all places of worship were closed for the national lockdown.

“At least it will be possible to go to the mosque for prayers this year, of course with all the possible precautions in order not to take any risks. That’s quite a big step ahead compared with last year, when we couldn’t leave our homes,” said Sana El-Gosairi.

“We’ll be very careful. We can’t run any risk now that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccines.”

She will spend Ramadan without her parents, who are stuck in Morocco due to a travel ban that the country has extended until May 21.

Hamid Zariate, 38, a doctor and imam in the Italian city of Biella, told Arab News that he is advising Muslims to avoid crowds.

“The message of Islam will still be able to travel among us through the internet. It’s a formidable opportunity that has also allowed us to reach many young people,” he said.

The Islamic Center in Brescia wrote on Facebook: “This Ramadan will be restricted, but we can acknowledge that we’ll be living it in better conditions than last year. We won’t have complete normality, but we’ll live it with an even more conscious spirituality.” The center announced that food parcels will be donated to the needy.

Many Catholic bishops have sent messages to Muslim communities to mark the start of the holy month.

Marco Prastaro, a bishop in Asti, expressed to Muslims his “sincere friendship and spiritual closeness, and the wish that through the sincere practice of fasting, prayer and almsgiving, every believer may receive abundant blessings from the Highest, especially in the hard time of the pandemic. Ramadan Karim! A generous Ramadan to all of you!”