Italy: Country's muslims raise funds to help quake victims

L'Aquila, 10 April (AKI) - The president of Italy's Union of Islamic Communities said a collection of funds for the victims of the Abruzzo earthquake would take place in mosques across Italy on Friday during prayers. As of Friday, the death toll from the earthquake had reached 289, with thousands injured and 28,000 left homeless.

"Everything that will be collected at mosques in Italy will be given as charity for the victims of the quake in Abruzzo," said Mohammed Nour Dachan, the president of Italy's Union of Islamic Communities (UCOII).

"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.

He made the remarks soon after the end of the open-air mass held in L'Aquila for earthquake victims. After the Christian service, Dachan read the muslim funeral prayer (Salat al-Janaza) for the 11 Muslim victims of the devastating quake.

"We are one big family that lives together the experience of life but that in these days has also lived together the tragedy of death," said Dachan.

"Life and death are all part of this divine design. We find ourselves here, sharing the pain for all our brothers and sisters, the young and the children who are victims of the earthquake that has hurt the heart of Abruzzo and the whole of Italy."

There are around one million Muslims among Italy's population of 60 million.

Around 28,000 people are homeless after thousands of buildings were damaged by the magnitude 6.3 earthquake on Monday and hundreds of aftershocks. The government authorised searches for people who could still be alive under the rubble to continue until Sunday.

The two-hour funeral mass began with a message read on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI, who urged survivors to keep up hope.


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