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IKEA praised for opening car park to allow Muslims to hold social distancing Eid prayers

Images shared online showed hundreds of Muslims practising social distancing [Twitter]

Date of publication: 26 May, 2020

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More than 700 Muslims practised social distancing while performing Eid al-Fitr prayers in Germany this weekend after IKEA donated its car park space as a gesture of goodwill.
Swedish home and furniture giant IKEA received widespread praise this weekend after allowing hundreds of Muslims to use one of its German store's car parks to perform Eid al-Fitr prayers.

Footage that surfaced online of worshippers taking part in the prayer while adhering to social distancing measures designed to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"We have done holiday prayer as a nation in the open air with 700 people," the Islamic Community Milli Goruş (IGMG), which organised the event, said.

"We would like to express our gratitude to the Wetzlar police, the Wetzlar regulatory office, to IKEA Wetzlar and others that made this extraordinary prayer possible. Have a blessed holiday," the message, posted onto the group’s Wetzlar Facebook page, said.

The three-day Eid holiday is usually a time of family get-togethers and lavish daytime feasts after weeks of dawn-to-dusk fasting. But this year many can are celebrating at home with only their immediate family, with coronavirus fears dampening the holiday spirit.

Many countries have tightened restrictions on movement for Eid Al-Fitr, one of the most important dates in the Islamic calendar, despite having eased curfews earlier this month.

Similar creative measures were taken across the pond in the US and Canada, where Muslims embellished their cars with colourful decorations for Eid al-Fitr and attended prayers from their vehicles in an effort to capture the holiday spirit amid strict coronavirus restrictions. 

In Canada's Ottowa, a mosque held its first-ever drive-in prayer to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr, after finalising the decision last minute on Saturday.

Read also: WATCH: 'Run, sheikh!' Egypt imam abandons Eid prayers and flees police after coronavirus ban

According to local outlet Ottowa Citizen, hundreds of cars filled a parking lot behind the mosque just hours after the announcement. Staying inside their cars, worshippers tuned to a radio station while Imam Muhammad Sulaiman led the Eid prayer.

Similar events were held in the US, with videos emerging on social media showing rows of cars parked side-by-side to replicate the traditional positions of Muslim worshippers standing in line to pray.

Families inside the cars were connected to the Imam via popular video messaging app Zoom, where a lecture was being held prior to the official prayers.

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