Belgium: Turks enter holy month under COVID's shadow

Special tarawih prayers will not be done due to coronavirus restrictions, while restaurants only offer takeaway service

Omer Tugrul Cam   | 13.04.2021
Belgium: Turks enter holy month under COVID's shadow FILE PHOTO


Turks living in Belgium this week entered another Muslim holy month of Ramadan under strict measures taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Under the preventative measures, special tarawih prayers – normally done as part of a congregation – will not be performed in some parts of the country.

In the capital Brussels, people will not be able to go to the mosques for tarawih as the curfew starts at 10 p.m.

But people living in both the Wallonia and Flanders regions will be able to take part in tarawih prayers as the curfew there lasts from midnight to morning.

Ekrem Seker, an imam of the Belgian Islamic Federation Mosque in Brussels, said this year they are doing daily prayers with only 15 people, but that last year mosques were closed due to the pandemic.

"Our community is the ornament of our mosques. Unfortunately, Ramadan goes by bitterly when the community is not in the mosque,” he told Anadolu Agency.

Silence prevails this Ramadan in Brussels’ Schaerbeek neighborhood, where many Turks live, but many stores are closed.

Many Turkish restaurants in the neighborhood are only able to offer takeaway service, though, during Ramadan, restaurants are normally packed for fast-breaking iftar meals.

Celal Ciftci, who owns a restaurant in the neighborhood, said he faced the same situation last year. “We were hopeful for this year but (again) we only have takeaway service. We will observe Ramadan this year with bitterness,” he said.

Cemal Koyuncu, who has been living in Brussels for nearly 50 years, is among those who longed for the Ramadan they saw in previous years.

Yahya Kaplan, who was born and raised in Brussels, said that this year he will mostly spend Ramadan at home with his family.

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