Eid al-Fitr in Pandemic Era: European Muslims Celebrate End of Ramadan During Lockdown

Written by | Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

Eid al-Fitr, traditionally a three-day holiday and celebration marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which includes large family festivities and mass prayers, was celebrated worldwide Sunday (24 May) under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, with many choosing to only celebrate at home with immediate family. While some countries, including Turkey, imposed holiday curfews, its neigbor Georgia and the Turkish-controlled territory on the island of Cyprus saw the ban on mass worship lifted, but Eid prayers were still done while observing social distancing that included wearing face masks.
While Muslims in the Swedish capital city Stockholm attended prayers on a soccer pitch, prayer mats in the historical Old Mosque in the Greek city of Komotini, which has a large Muslim population, were placed with a distance. Muslims living in the Balkan countries of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Croatia also prayed in mosques with restrictions, though mass prayers in Kosovo and Slovenia were not permitted. In Moscow, the Russian capital, only religious officials were allowed to attend prayers and sermons in the central mosque, whereby these were aired live on a state-owned TV channel. Also Muslims in the UK had been urged to celebrate the Islamic festival at home under lockdown, with the guidelines for members of the community having been drawn up by the Muslim Council of Britain. But some social media users expressed their disappointment, saying that there were fewer warnings regarding other recent celebrations such as the VE Day anniversary.
Meanwhile, Muslims in Germany, where virus restrictions were eased recently, performed special prayers in stadiums, sports halls, and open spaces, as well as mosques. The country’s authorities allowed religious services to resume on 4 May but worshippers must maintain a distance of 1.5m. Because of these strict social distancing rules, the Dar Assalam mosque in Berlin‘s Neukölln district could only hold a fraction of its congregation and, in response, Martha Lutheran church in the city’s Kreuzberg district was reported as having opened its doors to Muslim worshippers unable to fit into their mosque. “It is a great sign and it brings joy in Ramadan and joy amid this crisis,” the mosque’s imam told the media. “This pandemic has made us a community. Crises bring people get together.” Muslim worshippers admitted to feel somewhat strange praying in a church and having even its pastor taking part in the service, but, as one of them put it, “when you look, when you forget the small details. This is the house of God in the end.”

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