ROME: Muslim communities around Italy marked the end of Ramadan with displays of unity and generosity.
During the holy month, most communities have been involved in fundraising and food distribution for families struggling amid the two-month national lockdown to halt the coronavirus pandemic.
With many mosques following stringent social distancing rules, Eid Al-Fitr celebrations to mark the end of Ramadan were mostly held outdoors, in parks or squares, to avoid the risk of infection.
In Vigevano, near Milan, more than €5,600 ($6,000) collected during Eid Al-Fitr prayers and celebrations was given to 190 local people in need.
“We celebrated the end of the holy month as well as the end of the fast in accordance with the new security measures required by the government,” Koutir El-Mostafa, president of the Islamic El Medina cultural center, told a local newspaper.
“Everyone made some contribution when they arrived for the communal prayer. They gave what they could, even two or three euros each, for the sake of solidarity and to help those in need during this difficult time.
“In the community, we have a list of families who live in hardship. Of course, their situation became worse with the coronavirus pandemic. We will help them all and do our best,” El-Mostafa said.
The cultural center reopened after national lockdown measures were eased in mid-May.
“We could have reopened from May 18, but in order to guarantee a safe and healthy environment we decided to wait. The center is now open, but I cannot bring in all the people who come to pray,” El-Mostafa said.
Sunday prayers were held in a large parking lot with social distancing measures in place. However, children, many mothers and those aged over 70 were encouraged to stay home.
The Mosque of Mercy in Marghera, an area that includes Venice’s industrial harbor, reopened, but Eid Al-Fitr celebrations were not held inside, with the local Islamic community praying at home.
However, worshippers plan to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr in coming weeks in the park of San Giuliano, the site of last year’s gathering.
“People called us from all over northern Italy asking to come and pray at the mosque in Marghera, but we preferred to be responsible and avoid situations that could result in gatherings and put us in difficult situations,” Sadmir Aliovsky, president of the Islamic Community of Venice, said.
Now the mosque is finally open, a temperature scanner has been installed at the entrance and shifts have been organized for prayers to limit the number of people congregating at the same time.
A video in Italian has been prepared for first-generation Muslims and converts to explain the rules and protocols.
Worshippers will be required to bring personal mats, children will not be allowed entry, and people showing signs of a fever will be sent home.
Venice’s Bengali community celebrated Eid in the Kolbe center, a large hall in a city hotel rented for the occasion.