Every evening 50 to 60 Muslims come into the passages of the Santa Anna church for a hearty meal of home-cooked food - how fantastic is that?!
With Covid-19 restrictions preventing Barcelona’s Islamic population from celebrating Ramadan at the usual indoor venues, a Catholic church has offered its open-air cloisters for Muslims to eat and pray together.
Every evening between 50 to 60 Muslims, many of them homeless, stream into the centuries-old stone passages of the Santa Anna church, where volunteers offer a fresh meal of home-cooked food.
“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 help each other too.”
Faouzia Chati, president of the Catalan Association of Moroccan Women, used to organise Iftar gatherings in the city, but limits on indoor dining forced her to seek an alternative space with good ventilation and room for social distancing.
She found a receptive ear in Father Peio Sanchez, Santa Anna’s rector, who sees the meeting of different faiths 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 to separate us,” said Chati.
Sanchez looked on as a man intoned the Muslim evening call to prayer beneath the orange trees of the church’s central courtyard, illuminated by the flames of gas heaters. “Even with different cultures, different languages, different religions, we are more capable of sitting down and talking than some politicians,” said the rector and isn’t he right?! This sure is a news we all needed to read!