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Muslim call to prayer played across Canterbury from The Marlowe Theatre ahead of Eid

The Islamic call to prayer has been broadcast from the roof of a popular theatre ahead of Eid.

For the first time in the city's history, the adhaan was played across Canterbury, through speakers from the top of The Marlowe Theatre at about 1pm on Friday.

Celebrated by Muslims across the world, the religious holiday of Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan - during which Muslims observe a period of dawn-till-dusk fasting.

Eid is typically a time when families and friends get together to pray and celebrate, but this year the festival will be severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

At about 1pm on Friday, the adhaan was played across Canterbury, as organised by resident Zayed Zaheer.

Mr Zayed Zaheer said: “The necessities of lockdown and social distancing in these difficult times for us all means the district’s Muslims are unable to celebrate Eid in their usual way.

“For hundreds of years, Canterbury has been a beacon of unity, acceptance and tolerance, welcoming visitors of all colours and creeds with open arms and warm hearts.

Salah Eddine Belhenniche; Monder Aboukhaled, who did the call to prayer; and organiser Zayed Zaheer. Picture: The Marlowe
Salah Eddine Belhenniche; Monder Aboukhaled, who did the call to prayer; and organiser Zayed Zaheer. Picture: The Marlowe

“This is just another example of the people of a place I am proud to call my home coming together as one.”

Mr Zaheer added that he was "overwhelmed" by the support MP Rosie Duffield gave to the event, which helped Muslim residents express their faith during the pandemic.

"With enormous thanks to The Marlowe Theatre and with the valued advice and help of Canterbury City Council, we felt a call to prayer from a Muslim with a beautiful voice would be a fitting gesture of peace, harmony and solidarity as we face the consequences of the current pandemic as one," he said.

Ms Duffield said: "I am so pleased that my office has been able to work with Canterbury City Council and local Muslim community to help facilitate the call to prayer, with reassurances that no social distancing rules will be breached. I hope that this will bring some comfort for Muslim residents at such an important time of year when I know that Ramadan and Eid preparations have been severely affected by lockdown.

"I would like to wish all of the Canterbury Muslim Community a peaceful and healthy Eid."

The call to prayer was broadcast from the roof of The Marlowe Theatre
The call to prayer was broadcast from the roof of The Marlowe Theatre

Lord Mayor of Canterbury, Cllr Terry Westgate, added: “If there is one thing that the coronavirus has taught us it is that far more unites us than ever divides.

“And those differences between us are a gift to be celebrated and relished.

“Ours is a community that, with all of its component parts, really cares for others and will always go the extra mile without fail and that makes me incredibly proud.”

Deborah Shaw, The Marlowe Theatre’s Chief Executive, said: "We’re delighted to have been able to help with something which means so much to our Muslim community. Eid Mubarak!"

The Very Revd Dr Robert Willis, The Dean Of Canterbury, said: “The community of the Cathedral wish you well as you complete your fast of Ramadan and begin Eid. Both of our communities are praying constantly for the health and well-being of our world at this time of crisis.”

Celebrities including Great British Bake-Off winner Nadiya Hussain and Citizen Khan creator Adil Ray have urged Muslims not to gather this weekend, and to follow the guidance on social distancing.

Read more: All the latest news from Canterbury


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