Church measures to help the adjacent Mosque comply with German laws on physical distancing by hosting a number of its worshippers.
A church in Berlin, the German capital, assisted a nearby mosque by hosting Friday prayers in a move praised as “an impressive symbol of unity,” in keeping physical distance guidelines.
Places of worship reopened in the country at the beginning of the month, but worshippers must keep at least one meter away from each other.
Only 50 people can be accommodated in the Dar Assalan Mosque in the district of Neukoelln, Berlin, which sees hundreds of Muslims on Fridays, under the guidelines to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The nearby church of Martha Lutheran volunteered to help hosting Muslim prayers in German and Arabic.
“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,” said Mohamed Taha Sabry, the mosque’s imam.
“This pandemic has made us a community. Crises bring people get together,” said the imam, who led the congregation in prayer watched over the Virgin Mary through a stained glass window.
Samer Hamdoun, one of Muslim worshipers, said it took some time to get used to the church environment.
“It was a strange feeling because of the musical instruments, the pictures,” said Hamdoun. “But when you look, when you forget the small details, this is the House of God in the end.”
The pastor of the church, Monika Matthias, said the Muslim call to prayer moved her.
“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.”
The pastor said the partnership was a community decision “to do the best in times of coronavirus”.
“This has brought us closer. Whether this partnership will go on and how it will go on, that is still open, but I think getting to know each other and what we have experienced together in this time is strengthening for whatever may lie ahead,” she said.
In April, the Islamic Council, a coalition of 400 mosques, said a lot of people are facing bankruptcy because the closures have spread to the Ramadan holy fasting month, normally a critical time for donations.