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World News

Spanish Catholic church opens its doors for Muslims to celebrate Ramadan

by Kelly Valencia

A church in the Spanish city of Barcelona has opened its doors to Muslims who are currently celebrating Ramadan, to eat and pray together. 

Current coronavirus restrictions in the city mean that the usual venues where the Muslim community would celebrate the religious festival are closed. 

Church of Santa Anna, located in the centre of the city, is offering its cloisters to host between 50 and 60 Muslims every night, most of whom are homeless. 

During the celebration of Ramadan Muslims don´t eat between sunrise and sunset only breaking their fasting after the sun has gone down with a meal known as Iftar. It is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. 

"Even with different cultures, different languages, different religions, we are more capable of sitting down and talking than some politicians," told Reuters the rector of the church, Fr Peio Sanchez.

The gathering is organised by the Catalan Association of Moroccan Women. Its president, Faouzia Chati, told Reuters covid restrictions forced her to find alternative spaces that would have good ventilation and enough room for social distancing. 

She added that rector of the church, Fr Peio Sanchez, was very open to the idea as he saw the opportunity as an act of interfaith recognition. 

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

The campaign has not been welcomed by all though, as people on social media have complained about the initiative. Responding to the criticism, the church said in a tweet: "As always when there is novelty there is criticism. As we are still in a pandemic the Association of Moroccan Women asked us for the possibility of celebrating Iftar for the homeless. Because we can choose to do so, we welcome this celebration. Fraternity is about being welcoming".

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