Muslims have gathered at the Ospizio in Floriana for their Friday prayers, the first time they are praying there after the controversy created in the past weeks when they used to assemble in Msida.
The government offered Muslims to pray there after protests against the practice. Muslims argued that the growth of their community in Malta made it impossible for them to all attend prayers at the mosque in Paola.
Some 300 Muslims turned up in Floriana today.
Minister Evarist Bartolo was said to be meeting the Muslim community after the prayers but cancelled his visit at the last minute.
Muslims in Malta want small congregations in different localities
Representing the Muslim Community in Malta, Bader Zeina expressed his satisfaction as fresh discussions for an alternate site for Muslims in Malta to pray commenced.
In comments to The Malta Independent right after mid-day prayers, Zeina said discussions are still in their initial phase but thanked the government for lending a helping hand to address the issue, at least temporarily.
“Talks between our community and the government are very positive and I am sure we will find a solution soon”, he added.
As he explained, Muslims in Malta want small congregations in different localities, rather than another Mosque.
“A new Mosque would not really solve the issue, because the problem does not only lie with the Friday prayers, but also with the five daily ones,” he said.
Zeina argued that small centres for praying in different localities would also allow for Muslims in Malta to take an hour off from work to go and pray without having the need to waste time to drive to the Mosque.
Asked whether he thinks Muslims would be asking too much from their employers for permission to leave work for their prayer, Zeina said that from his experience, many Maltese employers understand and appreciate a Muslim’s dedication to prayer.
“Some Maltese employers actually dedicated a room for Muslims to be able to pray in. Most of the employers are very flexible, they will even let Muslims leave for prayer without imposing on them the need to work the hours they lost,” he added.
Photos and Video by Jonathan Borg and Chanelle Demicoli