In Berlin, a coronavirus test before Ramadan prayers
26 Apr 2021
Picture used for illustrative purpose. File
With his head tilted back and his face mask pulled down, Imam Abdallah Hajjir patiently undergoes a nasal swab outside a Berlin mosque to get tested for the coronavirus.
"Negative!" he smiles a few minutes later, and heads inside for Friday prayers.
The medical team manning a testing station outside the red-bricked "House of Wisdom" mosque is part of a push by authorities in the German capital to raise Covid-19 awareness during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
Sitting at a table in the building's parking lot, the staff carry out free rapid testing for a steady stream of worshippers lining up with prayer mats rolled up under their arms.
Imam Abdallah Hajjir says encouraging the congregation to get tested is a way "to contribute" in the fight against the pandemic.
"By protecting the members of our community, we are protecting those they come into contact with, so society as a whole," he said.
As Germany's Covid-19 vaccination drive picks up speed, city authorities are stepping up efforts to try to overcome "the large reservations" held by some about getting jabbed, said Katarina Niewiedzial, Berlin's integration officer.
"There's false information circulating" about the vaccines, she said, ranging from "'It's going to make me sterile' to 'they're going to implant a chip'".
She said people like the imam "with all the authority they carry" are best placed to "boost people's confidence" in the Covid-19 jabs.