On Easter Sunday (April 12, 2020), Italian tenor and global music icon Andrea Bocelli will give a solo performance at the historic Duomo, the cathedral of Milan, Italy, by invitation of the City and of the cathedral, and thanks to the hospitality of the Archpriest and the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo.
“On the day on which we celebrate the trust in a life that triumphs, I’m honored and happy to answer ‘Sì’to the invitation of the City and the Duomo of Milan.”This is how Andrea Bocelli said ‘yes’to the City of Milan in this dark time that has wounded all of Italy.
There will be no audience present, and strictly no access for the public (in compliance with government regulations on Covid-19), but the concert will be exclusively streamed live globally on the tenor’s YouTube channel, () from 6pm UK time, 10am PST, 1pm EST, uniting the world in the face of a global pandemic.
In a concert representing a message of love, healing and hope to Italy and the world, the Duomo, a national and international landmark, currently closed to all, will open its doors exceptionally for Andrea Bocelli who will be accompanied only by the cathedral organist, Emanuele Vianelli, playing one of world’s largest pipe organs. The carefully selected pieces, specially arranged for solo voice and organ for the occasion, will include the well-loved Ave Maria setting by Bach/Gounod and Mascagni’s Sancta Maria –uplifting sacred music repertoire on a day symbolic of the renewal of life.
The event is promoted by the City of Milan and the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo, produced by Sugar Music and Universal Music Group, thanks to the generous contribution of YouTube. Andrea Bocelli’s participation is entirely pro-bono (in collaboration with Almud and Maverick Management).
“I am happy Andrea has accepted our invitation,”said the Mayor of Milan, Giuseppe Sala. “This year, Easter will be very different for all of us. The joyous serenity that usually comes with this day, has been greatly troubled by the pandemic we are experiencing. I am sure that the extraordinary voice of Bocelli will be the embrace we are missing these days, a strong, special hug, capable of warming the heart of Milan, Italy and the world.”
“Our ‘Hallelujah’is an invitation that we placed in the ark forty days ago and that the flood, which has overwhelmed us all, almost made us forget the joy of expressing it on the day of Easter. The voice and word of Andrea Bocelli reminds us that the reason for our hope does not come from us but it is a gift that comes from God. This is what it means to promote, from our Duomo – the home of the people of Milan – and through the voice of Bocelli, the confidence that the Spirit of the Risen Crucifix will help us shape the days granted to us in the Kingdom of the One who wanted a new humanity, united and fraternal,”said Monsignor Gianantonio Borgonovo, Archpriest of the Duomo of Milan.
“I believe in the strength of praying together; I believe in the Christian Easter, a universal symbol of rebirth that everyone –whether they are believers or not –truly needs right now. Thanks to music, streamed live, bringing together millions of clasped hands everywhere in the world, we will hug this wounded Earth’s pulsing heart, this wonderful international forge that is reason for Italian pride.
While much of the Western world is in quarantine and many fear that the worst is still yet to come from the coronavirus, many Muslims around the world aren’t worried at all: they are sure that Allah will protect them from the plague. As a result, they’re gathering in large numbers, thereby endangering their coreligionists and infidels alike.
While most mosques in the Toronto area (where Ontario Premier Doug Ford has declared a state of emergency) have closed, Zahir Bacchus, who serves as the imam at Jamiat Al Ansar in Brampton, Ontario and belongs to the Canadian Council of Imams (CCI), said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has put Muslims in uncharted territory. We’ve asked Muslims to pray at home, pray with their families and loved ones —just don’t come to the mosque.”
The imams of the CCI believe that the Muslims who are not heeding this advice are reflecting an “allegiance to certain foreign scholars not heeding the calls, and in the process endangering Canadian lives.”
There is certainly no shortage of “foreign scholars”who are claiming that the virus doesn’t infect Muslims. , Shi’ite leader Muqtada al-Sadr declared: “One of the most appalling things that have caused this epidemic is the legalization of same-sex marriage. Hence, I call on all governments to repeal this law immediately and without any hesitation.”In the meantime, hundreds of his followers gathered in a mosque and chanted “coronavirus has terrified you.”What could possibly go wrong?
Hundreds of Muslims also defied quarantine regulations and crowded into mosques in ; of them, a student named Koulanya Abo, declared: “This is a time people have to go to the mosque and pray ceaselessly. Anything out of that will not be tolerated by Allah, because this is a period where people are facing a lot of difficulties due to the outbreak of the pandemic COVID-19.”
According to the Middle East Media Research Institute (), Yemeni Islamic scholar Ibrahim Al-Ubeidi explained that many of these difficulties people were facing were the fault of, you guessed it, the Jews. He explained that Jews, working with Americans, had cooked up the coronavirus as part of their nefarious plan to seize control of the two holiest sites in Islam, the mosques in Mecca and Medina. This was, he said, all part of the larger scheme to “Judaize”Mecca and Medina that led the Jews to place the House of Saud on the throne of Arabia 100 years ago.
That’s weapons-grade conspiracy paranoia, and it isn’t al-Ubeidi’s alone. jihad group leader Hafiz Aakif Saeed said that the coronavirus was “the wrath of Allah Almighty, befalling largely on the developed world and their oppressor rulers who had subjected innocent Muslims to persecution and genocide over the last 50 years.”And , a Muslim leader, Sheikh Sani Jingir, claimed that coronavirus was a Western conspiracy designed to prevent Muslims from performing the rites of their religion. Jingir “insisted that coronavirus was not real,”and “said any Muslims who believed in Trump and stopped praying at the Holy Mosque in Mecca should seek for God’s forgiveness.”
In a similar vein, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute , an imam in Gaza, Jamil Al-Mutawa, preached a sermon in which he said that Allah was afflicting non-Muslims with coronavirus while sparing Muslims. Allah “has sent just one soldier,”he said, referring to the coronavirus. “What would happen had he sent 50 like the coronavirus? He has sent just one soldier and it has hit all 50 [American] states. An hour ago, they said on TV that in California…They said that they expect 58% of California to be infected within two months. They talk about 25 million infected people in just one of the 50 states. Allah be praised. Look how anyone who schemes against the Al-Aqsa Mosque is being shattered to smithereens by the soldiers of Allah.”He spoke about Israel in the same way: “Look how empty the [Israeli] cities are. Look how empty their streets are and look how crowded this mosque is. Who is it that has given us security and terrified them? Who is it that has protected us and harmed them? It is,”he said, triumphantly drawing the word out, “Allaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!”
Al-Mutawa added: “The Muslims are the people who are least infected. The only country where nobody has died…When I entered this mosque, I received a text message that the 56 people who had been quarantined in Bethlehem have been completely healed by the grace of Allah. Brothers, before I entered the mosque, I contacted senior doctors, and they told me that as of this moment, there is not a single case in Gaza.”
The next day, coronavirus cases were confirmed in Gaza, but that is not likely to have changed al-Mutawa’s mind: he knows his dogmas are truer than the data of experience.
Also, when reality is uncomfortable, one can simply fabricate a world that is more to one’s liking. India’s reported Thursday that a video claiming that President Trump is participating in Islamic prayers in order to ward off coronavirus has gone viral. The text accompanying the vide says: “The world’s most powerful country also acknowledged the power of the Quran and read the Quran in the White House and prayed for Crona [sic], share this, respect every religion.”However, you may be surprised to learn that the President is not really turning to Islam: the video is really from an interfaith service Trump attended in 2017.
Denial and wishful thinking are terrible tools for confronting the coronavirus. The worst part of all this is that others who have been more prudent may be infected by those who have given themselves over to these fantasies.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with his ministerial team on Sunday to discuss , after which he held a press conference lauded the “extraordinary cooperation” between the US and Israel to thwart the viruses spread.
Netanyahu spoke with US Vice President Pence hours before meeting with ministers in his cabinet and thanked President Donald Trump and Pence “for their extraordinary cooperation with Israel” during the Sunday night press conference.
He said the “finest people in the world” are dealing with the coronavirus, including Deborah Birx, coronavirus response coordinator in the White Houseand head of the U.S.’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“We can learn a lot from them and we deeply appreciate the opportunity to cooperate, especially on the technological solutions for widespread screening and perhaps to get as soon as we can to home screening,”Netanyahu said. “I think this will change the situation, not only for the United States and for Israel, but for the world. I’m deeply grateful for this cooperation that is so important for the State of Israel and for many, many others.”
The PM held a meeting on Monday with senior technological experts working to track the coronavirus, a team from Health Ministry and the other relevant government ministries.
“The steps that we have taken up until today have proven themselves because we really are in a situation of control, and the spread of the disease is of a much lower scope,” he said. “We see a sharp increase in many other countries and we reached the conclusion that if we need to take other steps, this will, in effect, be applied to all countries.”
“Health takes precedence, over everything, this is life itself,” Netanyahu emphasized.