Thousands of mourners took part in an emotional funeral Mass for victims of the earthquake in the central Italian region of Abruzzo that left 290 people dead and 28,000 homeless. A representative of the Italian Muslim community, Mohamed Nour Dachan, participated in the funerals. Dachan appealed that all the mourners be “united in brotherly live,” and was met with applause. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was also in attendance of the service, which was lead by the Vatican’s second highest official, Cardinal Tascisio Bertone, and was broadcast live on national television.
Islamic Relief Italy has established operation for a camp for displaced people in the village of Onna, which was completely destroyed by the April 6th earthquake in L’Aquila. “The earthquake destroyed everything; universities, schools, hospitals and clinics which is affecting the provision of essential services. People have lost their homes and are living in tents and they desperately need more help,” said Paulo Gonzaga, Director of Islamic Relief Italy. Islamic Relief Italy began to help with distributions two days following the earthquake, providing 800 people in Montecchio with food, clothing, blankets, and hygiene kids, along with a further 1,000 in Abagno and L’Aquila. Islamic Relief is presently working with the Catholic association La Misericordie, and intends to provide further support to children affected by the natural disaster.
The director of Rome’s Grand Mosque is urging mosques across Italy to hold their Friday prayers for the victims of the devastating earthquake in central Italy, which killed at least 278 people, injured several thousand, and left around 28,000 homeless. “I am asking the imams of all of Italy’s mosques to follow our example and to organize prayers for the victims of the earthquake that has struck Abruzzo,” said Abdellah Redouane. “It is important for Muslims to show solidarity with the earthquake victims and demonstrate their wish to contribute to the greater good of society,” Redouane added.
Mosques in the southern Puglia region, Tuscany, northern Veneto, and Lombardy regions have taken up Redouane’s appeal. Italy’s Union of Islamic Communities stated that it is ready to help survivors of the earthquake, by donating blood and coordinating with aid efforts.
The president of the organization, Mohammed Nour Dachan, added that the UCOII is collecting funds for victims, and accepting donations in mosques across Italy. “Everything that will be collected at mosques in Italy will be given as charity for the victims of the quake in Abruzzo,” said Dachan. “We feel very close to the joys and pains that affect our country,” said Dachan, who is also the imam of the central Italian city of Ancona’s mosque. Dachan added that despite religious difference, all a part of a “big family” that experiences tragedy together.
The Muslim community in the central Italian region of Abruzzo is mobilizing to help the victims and those injured in the quake by donating blood at local hospitals. “We heard that hospitals needed blood and thus I am coordinating with the Muslims in the area so they can donate it, and I ask all Muslims of the area to help the victims in any way necessary,” said Mustafa Badstami, spokesman of Abruzzo’s small Muslim community.
Badstami added that while the mosque in nearby San Nicolo was not damaged, he is trying to find out if there were any Muslim casualties in other areas affected by Monday’s 6.3-magnitude earthquake. Badstami has also joined relief efforts to help victims and continue the search for survivors.