Photo of the week: A time for prayer


Muslims mark the Feast of the Sacrifice in unusual circumstances, with mosques imposing coronavirus security measures and Ghent prohibiting visits to the mosque altogether

Prayers at home

Worshippers in Brussels kept their distance while marking Eid at the mosque this morning, while officials in Ghent announced a last-minute ban on visiting the city’s mosques at all. Stricter coronavirus restrictions across Antwerp province meant Muslims in Antwerp and Mechelen were already unable to go to the mosque for prayers today.

Ghent’s mosques have been open since the beginning of June with limited capacity, and the city had originally allowed them to remain open for Eid prayers this weekend. “We sat with the city council on Tuesday, when it was decided that prayer could continue according to the agreed guidelines,” said Demir Ali Köse, who represents the city’s mosques.

He told VRT they had agreed that mosques could operate using reservations, multiple prayer times and stewards, but the council feared there would still be a large influx of people and reversed its decision. “At first we heard it was allowed, then not,” Köse said. “Had the decision been made on Tuesday, it would have been easier. ”

The actual party is celebrated in an intimate circle

- Demir Ali Köse

As a result, people in Ghent and Antwerp offered prayers at home instead. “The festival itself is not celebrated in the mosque,” Köse explained. “In the mosque there is only a short prayer, a joint thanksgiving prayer and a short speech, after which everyone goes home. The actual party is then celebrated in an intimate circle.”

In Brussels, people queued outside the Great Mosque in Jubelpark this morning, waiting for space to become available inside. Security staff at the entrance ensured only limited numbers were allowed in at one time.

Eid honours the willingness of the prophet Abraham to sacrifice his son. It is celebrated this year from the evening of 30 July to 3 August.

Photo: Worshippers in Brussels' Great Mosque
(c) Belga/Hatim Kaghat