As the interior spaces remain closed, a Catholic church has offered the outdoor cloisters for people to eat and pray together.
With the restrictions of COVID-19 that prevent the Muslim population of Barcelona from celebrating Ramadan in the usual indoor spaces, a Catholic church has offered the cloisters outdoors for people to eat and pray together.
Every evening, between 50 and 60 Muslims, many of them homeless, sink into the centuries-old stone passages of St. Anne’s Church, where volunteers offer a hearty meal of home-cooked food.
“We are all equal … If you are Catholic or of another religion and I am a Muslim, that’s fine,” said Hafid Oubrahim, a 27-year-old Moroccan of Berber descent who attends dinners.
“We are all like brothers and we also need to help each other.”
During the month of Ramadan, Muslim observers do not eat between sunrise and sunset, breaking the fast only after sunset with a meal known as Iftar.
Faouzia Chati, president of the Catalan Association of Moroccan Women, used to organize Iftar meetings in the city, but the boundaries in the inner dining room 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 encounter of different religions as emblematic of citizen coexistence.
“People are very happy that Muslims can do Iftar in a Catholic church, because religions serve to unite us, not to separate us,” Chati said.
Sanchez watched as a man sang Adhan, the Muslim call to prayer, under the orange trees in 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 able to sit and talk than some politicians,” the rector said.