Back to praying together

Members of Dunedin’s Muslim community gather for Friday prayers at the Al Huda mosque on Clyde St...
Members of Dunedin’s Muslim community gather for Friday prayers at the Al Huda mosque on Clyde St yesterday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Friday prayers again rang out in Dunedin as the Al Huda mosque opened its doors for the first time in months.

The restriction on gathering numbers rose from 10 to 100 at noon yesterday, and half an hour later 100 people gathered at the mosque to pray.

It was the first of two sessions, as numbers had to be split in order to stick to Level 2 rules.

Otago Muslim Association president Dr Mohammed Rizwan said members of the community had been praying at home, but were looking forward to getting back to the mosque.

‘‘The masjid is the house of God, so it’s that sense of belonging and worshipping God in His house together with the community,’’ he said.

It had been particularly tough during Ramadan, which ran from April 23 to May 23, as the city’s Muslim community would usually gather at the mosque in the evenings to break their fast.

This had been the first time since the mosque opened on Clyde St that they could not do that together, Dr Rizwan said.

‘‘It was sad but it was understandable.’’

Safety measures such as physical distancing would be in place at the mosque to guard against the spread of Covid-19.

They were among many groups around the South who were able to resume some semblance of normality after the tight restrictions of Level 4 and Level 3.

Churches will also be able to hold larger services this weekend, and sports teams will resume training.

Police were also preparing for revelry in Dunedin’s student quarter.

Sergeant Craig Dinnissen said officers would be working in the student area over the weekend to ‘‘ensure compliance with new levels’’ and respond to any reports of disorder.

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