Home prayer, unattended funerals and social responsibility: Muslims in Italy and the coronavirus outbreak (March-May 2020)
Preliminary remarks: the public religious scene and the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy
Sadly, in 2020 Italy was one of the countries hardest hit by coronavirus (by 26 February 2021 2020: 2,868,435 infected; 96,974 dead). All religious communities in Italy had to respond quickly and clearly to a common and invisible threat, while providing guidance and support to their local congregations and complying with government provisions in order to curb the spread of the virus. From 9 March to 2 May 2020, Italy’s approximately 2.9 million Muslims, like all other residents, had to abide by the country’s strict stay-at-home orders, refraining from going out except for emergencies and to buy food. In the present article, I will make use of selected texts published on the official websites of the Unione delle Comunità e Organizzazioni Islamiche in Italia (UCOII – Union of Islamic congregations and organizations in Italy – اتحاد الهيئات والجاليات الإسلامية في إيطاليا ) and of the As sociazione Islamica Italiana degli Imam e delle Guide Religiose (Italian Islamic Association of Imams and Religious Guides; الجمعية الإسلامية الإيطالية للأئمة والمرشدين ) to deter mine and discuss: 1) which practices of the Italian Islamic community were most affected by the epidemic, and 2) how Italian Muslims carried out various symbolic and social initiatives to demonstrate their active participation in the common fight against the spread of the virus.