Muslims in England were able to pray side by side for the first time since the start of the pandemic after social distancing restrictions were relaxed just in time for the start of Eid al-Adha.
“We actually have two celebrations in one: one is the celebration of Eid, the other is freedom – being able to come together, stand side by side and see friends and family that people don’t. haven’t seen them for a long, long time, ”said Mohammed Arif of the Union of Muslim Organizations Walsall, which is hosting for the first time an Eid-in-the-park event to bring worshipers outside where the risk of infection is reduced.
Thousands of people were expected to attend Eid prayers at Victoria Park in Leicester, but in Birmingham, the annual Eid celebration at Small Heath Park, which typically draws up to 60,000 people, has again been canceled, organizers Green Lane Masjid instead hosting four separate on-site congregational prayers and an outdoor event for 500 people.
“We had discussions with Public Health England, some of our doctors who are on the front lines and seeing an increase in infections and with the board, and we decided it was probably not in the public interest to do so. do for now, ”said the head of the mosque. CEO, Kamran Hussein.
But after more than a year of socially distanced prayer, he said it was an unusual but welcome feeling for people to pray nearby again. “It’s a little strange after so long everyone’s praying side by side and obviously we’ve created a space for people who still want to distance themselves socially,” he said, adding that the masks and disinfection hands would always be encouraged.
“The lifting of the restrictions came at just the right time for us. This is the fourth prayer of Eid during Covid, and it is the first where we get a real level of normalcy now. “
Eid al-Adha, which means “festival of sacrifice,” falls on Tuesday for most Muslims, although some celebrate it on July 21. This comes after Eid al-Fitr, which took place under Covid restrictions in May.
“We were reassured by the football and cricket matches where there were large crowds, but we ask people to always take precautions, people can always bring masks if they wish,” Arif said. . He added that a vaccination bus would be on hand during prayers to encourage young people to receive the vaccine if they haven’t already.
At the Central Mosque in London, leaders said they did not intend to change their policies much, despite the government’s rollback of all Covid restrictions.
“We’re still going to follow the restrictions even after ‘freedom day’ – we don’t suddenly open doors and everything is back to normal, even though technically it’s allowed,” one door said. – speech of the mosque, Monir Ahmad.
“We are just applying best practices to stay safe, because we know the numbers are increasing and ethnic communities are more affected. “