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Celebrating Ramadan in unusual places

Muslims in Badalona celebrate Ramadan in the old fire station, offered by the City Hall to be used during the entire month. The decision has however carried some controversy by conservative parties.

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06 September 2010 11:23 PM

by

ACN / Sarah Garrahan

Badalona (ACN).- Last week marked the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and the month-long tradition of Ramadan in which Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and carrying out sexual relations from dawn until sunset. In addition to fasting, Muslims also dedicate their time to reading the entire Qur\u2019an during Ramadan. As many Muslims pray up to six times a day during Ramadan, the Badalona City Hall has offered this community a temporary solution. The City Hall has handed over its old fire station for use during Ramadan, a decision not exempt from controversy.


After four prayers -the first one being at around 05:00 in the morning- and all day without eating, lighting a cigarette and without sexual relations, Muslims see the fifth prayer as the most anticipated of the day as it breaks the day\u2019s fast. For this reason, the Muslim community has given it a special significance.

Every evening at around 20:00, the imam of Bilal de Badalona along with others arrives at the centre to prepare a meal for around 60 people. The meal is typically prepared among families, but in Catalonia many Muslims live alone or do not have the means to prepare the feast. So the mosque prepares it for them.

The first people arrive at around 21:00 and begin helping to lie out the tablecloths over the carpets of the mosque. Some arrive no sooner than 19:25, the time that marks the start of dusk and the breaking of the fast. To begin, they drink a glass of milk and snack on pastries, dates and pies.

When people have gained a bit of strength after the first plate, ten minutes of prayer commence. The ritual ends with bread and an energy-infused soup so that Muslims may go through another day of fasting. Then Muslims leave the mosque and prepare for the last prayer of the day at around 23:00.

The last prayer often brings the most people into mosques, causing a problem with the amount of space that they can hold. Many Muslims seek out temples in cities or municipal towns and Badalona is one of the cities with the most space during this year\u2019s Ramadan.

The Badalona Town Hall has offered the Muslim community the use of its old fire station in its Sant Roc neighbourhood. With the opening of the new fire station this summer, the old station is left empty and demolition has been delayed so that it may be used as an improvised mosque for Ramadan.

The Muslim community is now using the metallic doors that once served as an exit for fire trucks. The floor is now full of carpets and the smell of incense fills the space. Fireman suits and boots are now replaced with djellabas and babouches.

Critiques from the PP and PxC

The Conservative and Spanish Nationalist People\u2019s Party (PP) and the Populist Anti-Immigration Party Platform for Catalonia (PxC) are not happy with the Town Council\u2019s decision. The president of the Badalona PP, Xavier Garcia Albiol, says that if Muslims want to pray \u201Cthey can do it in private spaces or in their own homes\u201D. He denounced the use of a municipal space for this purpose. The PxC has proposed a demonstration for the 18th of September because they fear that the Muslim community will establish themselves definitively after the Ramadan festivities.

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  • People praying at the improvised Mosque at the old fire station in Sant Roc's neighbourhood

  • People praying at the improvised Mosque at the old fire station in Sant Roc's neighbourhood