The centre is also supporting fundraising efforts for the local Maggiore hospital

Muslims in Italy distribute food to the needy despite the risk

On a street in the city center of Trieste A long procession of people could not go unnoticed in an area that is totally empty due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Hundreds of Muslims had gathered there after dark A police patrol was called to investigate but found no irregularities as everyone there was wearing face masks and kept a safe distance from each other.

The procession was moving to the nearby Islamic cultural center, but not to celebrate Ramadan, as all of Italy has been on lockdown since March 8.

But this was no ordinary Ramadhan gathering, the volunteers were donating food and basic necessities to the Islamic centre for distribution to those in need in Trieste, in the north east of Italy.

The centre has become a hub of solidarity. It is one of many examples of the help that Muslim communities in Italy are providing during Ramadan, in a country that has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Doctors and nurses in a hospital’s immunohematology and transfusion department in the city of Terni were almost incredulous when on the first day of Ramadan they welcomed many Muslims who wanted to donate blood, at a time when people are afraid to enter health facilities for fear of infection.

They decided to donate blood “because Terni and Italy have given us so much, and now it’s up to us to give something,” a Moroccan donor from Tiestre.

Another donor said: “It’s a gesture of solidarity we decided to make when we realised the shortage of blood at a time when social distancing makes everyone less eager to donate. Ramadhan is a moment when we share grace. In this difficult time, that’s a way we do it.”

Abderrahim Maarouf, former president of the municipal council for integration in Terni, organised the donation by involving people who usually go to the city’s two mosques. He used WhatsApp for his appeal, the same way he is sending prayers during Ramadhan.

“We thought it was right that the Italian Muslim community should make itself available and do something,” he said.

“Many of us have also made ourselves available to help those in need in the community. When needed, they know they can call us. It’s the least we can do, for Terni and for Italy, which deserve much more than this. Here’s what a community does. Here’s what integration means.”

In the city of Lodi, the Islamic cultural center is offering iftar meals to the elderly and to fragile families regardless of their faith.

“Foreigners or Italians, Muslims or non-observers, for us it makes no difference, we want to help the country and the city hosting us at such a difficult time for everyone.”

The Islamic centre is also supporting fundraising efforts for the local Maggiore hospital. According to data research, there are 1,600,000 Muslims in Italy about 2.4% of the Italian population.

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