Muslims pray inside the evangelical church of St. Marthaís parish, during their Friday prayers, as the community mosque canít fit everybody in due to social distancing rules, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Berlin, Germany, May 22, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)
A Berlin church is hosting Muslims who because of social distancing guidelines are unable to fit into their mosque for Friday prayers.
The Dar Assalam mosque in the capitalís Neukölln district normally welcomes hundreds of Muslims to its Friday services. But it can currently only accommodate 50 people at a time under Germanyís coronavirus restrictions.
During the holy fasting month of Ramadan, the nearby Martha Lutheran church stepped in to help, hosting Muslim prayers in Arabic and German.
"It is a great sign and it brings joy in Ramadan and joy amid this crisis," said Mohamed Taha Sabry, the mosqueís Imam, who led his congregation in prayer watched over by a stained-glass window depicting the Virgin Mary. "This pandemic has made us a community. Crises bring people get together."
Places of worship reopened in Germany on May 4 after weeks of closures under a coronavirus lockdown. But worshippers must maintain a minimum distance from one another of 1.5 meters.
The church, a red-brick neo-renaissance building in Berlinís Kreuzberg district could hardly contrast more sharply with the cultural centre in Neukölln where the Muslim congregation is accustomed to gathering.
"It was a strange feeling because of the musical instruments, the pictures," said worshipper Samer Hamdoun. "But when you look, when you forget the small details, this is the House of the God at the end, and they are all the same."
The Islamic Council, an umbrella group of 400 mosques, warned in April that many face bankruptcy because closures stretched into the holy fasting month of Ramadan, usually a vital period for donations.