Muslims pray in Berlin church to comply with social distancing rules

Muslims pray in Berlin church to comply with social distancing rules
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During the holy fasting month of Ramadan, the Martha Lutheran church in Berlin, Germany stepped in to help by hosting Muslim prayers in Arabic and German. (Reuters)
Muslims pray in Berlin church to comply with social distancing rules
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Muslims pray inside the evangelical church of St. Martha’s parish during their Friday prayers in Berlin, Germany, May 22, 2020. (Reuters)
Muslims pray in Berlin church to comply with social distancing rules
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Muslims pray inside the evangelical church of St. Martha’s parish during their Friday prayers in Berlin, Germany, May 22, 2020. (Reuters)
Muslims pray in Berlin church to comply with social distancing rules
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During the holy fasting month of Ramadan, the Martha Lutheran church in Berlin, Germany stepped in to help by hosting Muslim prayers in Arabic and German. (Reuters)
Muslims pray in Berlin church to comply with social distancing rules
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Muslims pray inside the evangelical church of St. Martha’s parish during their Friday prayers in Berlin, Germany, May 22, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 23 May 2020

Muslims pray in Berlin church to comply with social distancing rules

Muslims pray in Berlin church to comply with social distancing rules
  • ‘It is a great sign and it brings joy in Ramadan and joy amid this crisis’
  • ‘This pandemic has made us a community. Crises bring people get together’

BERLIN: A Berlin church is hosting Muslims who are unable to fit into their mosque for Friday prayers because of social distancing guidelines.
The Dar Assalam mosque in the Neukölln district normally welcomes hundreds of Muslims to its Friday services. But it can currently only accommodate 50 people at a time under Germany’s 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 mosque’s 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 being shut for weeks 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 Berlin’s Kreuzberg district could hardly offer a sharper contrast to the cultural center in Neukoelln 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 God in the end...”
The Islamic Council, an umbrella group of 400 mosques, said in April that many face bankruptcy because the closures stretched into the holy fasting month of Ramadan, usually a vital period for donations.
The church’s pastor, Monika Matthias, said she had felt moved by the Muslim call to prayer.
“I took part in the prayer,” she said. “I gave a speech in German. And during prayer, I could only say yes, yes, yes, because we have the same concerns and we want to learn from you. And it is beautiful to feel that way about each other.”


UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly
Updated 23 January 2021

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly
  • PM Boris Johnson had previously said evidence showed higher mortality rate 
  • Top medics have said it is “too early” to say whether the variant carries with it a higher mortality rate

LONDON: The discovery of a new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant in the UK should not alter the response to the pandemic, scientists say, despite fears that it could prove more deadly.
Top medics have said it is “too early” to say whether the variant, thought to be up to 70 percent more transmissible, carries with it a higher mortality rate.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed there was “some evidence” the variant had “a higher degree of mortality” at a press conference on Friday, Jan. 22, with the UK’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, adding it could be up to 30 percent more deadly. 
That came after a briefing by the UK government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) said there was a “realistic possibility” of an increased risk of death.
Prof. Peter Horby, Nervtag’s chairman, said: “Scientists are looking at the possibility that there is increased severity ... and after a week of looking at the data we came to the conclusion that it was a realistic possibility.
“We need to be transparent about that. If we were not telling people about this we would be accused of covering it up.”
But infectious disease modeller Prof. Graham Medley, one of the authors of the Nervtag briefing, told the BBC: “The question about whether it is more dangerous in terms of mortality I think is still open.
He added: “In terms of making the situation worse it is not a game changer. It is a very bad thing that is slightly worse.”
Dr. Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling for the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said he was “quite surprised” Johnson had made the claim.
“I just worry that where we report things pre-emptively where the data are not really particularly strong,” he added.