British Turks start Eid celebrations with socially-distanced prayers at mosques

After a month of fasting, British Turks and fellow Muslims in the United Kingdom and around the world today celebrated Eid al-Fitr, or Ramazan Bayramı (Ramadan Festival) or Şeker Bayramı (Sweet Festival) in Turkish.

For the second year running, the religious festival was held under Covid restrictions. While these have been relaxed in the UK, the current rules still limited friends and family coming together to outdoor meetings in groups of six or in two households.

The day for many British Muslims started at the mosque for the traditional Bayram/Eid morning prayers. Worshippers brought their own prayer mats and masks, and adhered to social distancing while praying.

Turkish owned mosques including Shacklewell Lane, in Dalston, and Aziziye in Stoke Newington, were busy for the occasion.

Marrying coronavirus guidelines with the demand for prayer space Aziziye held three prayer sessions on Thursday morning. Among those attending was the Turkish ambassador Ümit Yalçın.

The Eid prayer was led by the Imam of Aziziye Mosque, Halim Yazıcıoğlu, whose sermon was created in line with guidance from Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs.

Turkish ambassador Ümit Yalçın (centre) with the Imam of Aziziye Mosque Halim Yazıcıoğlu (second right), at Aziziye Mosque for Eid/Ramazan Bayramı prayers, Stoke Newington, London, 13 May 2021. Photo © Halil Yetkinlioglu


Yazıcıoğlu talked about the need to comply with Covid-19 rules. He urged the congregation not to meet with others during Eid to help prevent the spread of the disease, and instead to use technology for virtual celebrations and to enquire about the wellbeing of loved ones.

Another major theme of Yazıcıoğlu’s sermon was the events in Israel and Palestine, and specifically Jerusalem.

He spoke of the sadness Muslims felt because the holy city, home to Islam’s third most holy site the Al Aqsa mosque and compound, was “wounded”. The comment was in reference to Palestinian Muslim worshippers, who were attacked as they prayed during Ramadan.

“This Bayram we are sad because Jerusalem, blessed with its name and its surroundings, is wounded.”

Aziziye Mosque Imam Halim Yazıcıoğlu: “This Bayram we are sad because Jerusalem, blessed with its name and its surroundings, is wounded”

“We are witnessing the barbaric attack of a raging and tyrannical community against the Masjid al-Aqsa and our Palestinian brothers. The Jerusalem issue is a common issue not only of Palestinians but of all Muslims. Masjid al-Aqsa, the first qibla of Islam, belongs to Muslims” Imam Yazıcıoğlu continued.

“Our support and prayers are with our Palestinian brothers and sisters today, as it was yesterday.

“May our Almighty Lord grant salvation to all the oppressed, the victims who have been expelled from their homes and homelands.

Imam of Aziziye Mosque, Halim Yazıcıoğlu gives his Eid / Bayram sermon, Aziziye Mosque, Stoke Newington, London, 13 May 2021. Photo © Halil Yetkinlioglu


“May the ummah grant us the strengthening of our consciousness and our fellowship of faith. May we see the day when a true Eid can be celebrated in Jerusalem, at Masjid al-Aqsa and all the Islamic regions under occupation freely,” said Yazıcıoğlu.

The ominous situation hanging over Palestinians in Jerusalem and Gaza was a theme in the sermons of many imams across Britain and abroad which, together with Covid restrictions, made for a muted start to Eid.

London celebrated the Muslim festival by lighting up one of the capital’s most famous landmarks Trafalgar Square.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan tweeted: “As Eid celebrations around the world begin – Trafalgar Square shines bright – offering us all a moment to reflect on the values of peace, charity, and compassion that epitomise Ramadan.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also took to Twitter to wish Muslims in the UK and around the world a blessed Eid.

“Muslims make an extraordinary contribution to this country, and while this year’s celebrations are not as we would want, if we all do our bit and get vaccinated we can look forward to a much happier future,” the PM said.

Zara Mohammed, the general secretary of the Muslim Council of the UK, wished everyone “a blessed and joyous Eid Mubarak”.