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The New Arab

Church in Germany hosts Friday prayers for muslims during coronavirus pandemic

According to estimates, there are around 4 million muslims residing in Germany [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 May, 2020

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A pastor and an imam collaborated in Germany to provide a space of worship to muslims inside a church, in a bid to observe strict social distancing measures.
A church in Berlin has allowed Muslims to hold Friday prayers, after a nearby mosque reached its coronavirus-mandated capacity limit. 

The move was praised by global Muslims and non-Muslims alike and was widely perceived as an act of 'kindness and solidarity'.

Places of worship in Germany were allowed to reopen earlier this month though measures aimed at curbing the spread limit the number of worshippers allowed at a time to 50.

The Dar Assalam mosque in Berlin's Neukölln district would normally host around 1,000 people for Friday prayers, according to Newsweek. The restrictions would only allow a fraction of regular worshippers to attend the prayers.

As Muslims marked the holy month of Ramadan, which sees a spike in the number of worshippers attending prayers, the nearby Martha evangelical church stepped in to accomodate at least a portion of Muslims who would not be able to attend prayers.

In addition to capping the number of worshippers, measures currently in place also require those praying to maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 metres from one another.

The church currently hosts two services of Friday prayers, one in German and another in Arabic. Worshippers pray while wearing protective masks.

"I was a bit surprised by the idea, but it was a beautiful feeling. At a time when mosques are full, it's a wonderful initiative," one worshipper told Deutsche Welle.

In comments to Al Jazeera, the mosque's imam, Mohamed Taha Sabry, who led his congregation in prayer, said the coronavirus crisis brought the communities closer.

"These associations happen because of solidarity. The church saw how Muslims were suffering and asked us: 'Do you need space to pray?' That is an amazing sign of solidarity in these times," Sabry told Aljazeera

"This pandemic has made us a community. Crises bring people get together," said the imam.

The church's pastor, Monika Matthias, also told the news outlet that the virus outbreak had prompted the partnership between the communities. It was a decision "to do the best in times of coronavirus," she said.

Read also: Muslim Iraqi businessman erects tallest Christmas tree in Baghdad

The photos circulating of Muslims praying on prayer rugs against the backdrop of colorful church windows sparked awe in social media users.

"A church letting Muslims use the space for prayer in germany is the kindness we need today and forevermore," one person said.

However, others took to social media to spew hate against Muslims and immigrants in islamaphobic posts and tweets. 

Earlier in the month, the House of One – a Berlin initiative between local Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders – hosted an interfaith prayer session in a church, calling for unity during the coronavirus crisis. 

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