Tuesday, June 22, 2021

‘We are all the same’: the Barcelona church opens to Ramadan diners | News from Spain

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As closed places remain closed, a Catholic church has offered its cloisters outdoors for people to eat and pray together.

With COVID-19 restrictions preventing the Muslim population of Barcelona from celebrating Ramadan in the usual indoor places, a Catholic church has offered its cloisters outdoors for people to eat and pray together.

Every night between 50 and 60 Muslims, many of them homeless, flow into the centuries-old stone passages of the Church of Santa Anna, where volunteers offer a hearty home-cooked meal.

“We are all the same … If you are Catholic or of another religion and I am Muslim, that’s fine,” said Hafid Oubrahim, a 27-year-old Moroccan of Berber descent who attends the dinners.

“We are all like brothers and we must also help each other.”

During the month of Ramadan, practicing Muslims do not eat between sunrise and sunset, and only break their fast after sunset with a meal known as Iftar.

Faouzia Chati, president of the Catalan Association of Moroccan Women, used to organize Iftar gatherings in the city, but the limitation of indoor food forced her to look for an alternative space with good ventilation and space for distancing.

He found a receptive ear in Father Peio Sánchez, rector of Santa Anna, who sees the meeting of different religions as emblematic of civic coexistence.

“People are very happy that Muslims can do Iftar in a Catholic church, because religions serve to unite us, not separate us,” Chati said.

Sánchez watched as a man chanted adhan, the Muslim call to prayer, under the orange trees of the central courtyard of the church, lit by the flames of the gas heaters.

“Even with different cultures, different languages, different religions, we are more capable of sitting and talking than some politicians,” said the rector.

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