The Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, will be hosting a national online Iftar the meal that marks to Muslims the ending of daily fasting during Ramadan.
The event has been organised by the Ramadan Tent Project which since 2013 has been holding huge events at locations including Wembley Stadium and Trafalgar Square, attracting crowds totalling over 100,000.
This year, due to the government’s restrictions around coronavirus, they have organised online Iftars, using their hashtag #MyOpenIftar which they have been running during Ramadan. The virtual platform brings together families, friends and community groups alongside guest speakers.
Tufail Hussain, Director of Islamic Relief UK
On Friday 15 May the online Iftar will be hosted by Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, in conjunction with Islamic Relief. The panel of guest speakers will be discussing what Ramadan means to them and what it means to be a leader during a crisis.
The Mayor said: “I am delighted to have been asked to host the Iftar on Friday.
“The current ban on gatherings to control the spread of coronavirus has resulted in the cancellation of religious services and gatherings for all faiths.
“However, it is so important that faith groups promote togetherness whilst apart and these virtual Iftars organised by Ramadan Tent Project fulfil this need by giving people the opportunity to come together during Ramadan – albeit through the use of technology.”
Ramadan Tent Project is a non-profit organisation founded in 2013 with a mission of bringing communities together to better understand each other. Normally their Iftars attract huge crowds but this year anyone can attend their virtual Iftars by using the link https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0td-qhpjouEtflaVXP5XuXunZGtPwJBp4K or following the live stream on Facebook.
Tufail Hussain, Director of Islamic Relief UK said: “Community iftars, where people have met and broken their fasts together have always been central to Ramadan. In these difficult times, it’s more important than ever for us to reach out.
“During this crisis, British Muslims have joined other faith communities in being some of the first to organise and respond – from delivering food parcels to the vulnerable and elderly, to setting up virtual counselling services to combat loneliness and isolation.”
Omar Salha, Founder and CEO of Ramadan Tent Project said “At a time of physical distancing, being at service to our community and honouring our mission of bringing communities together, is more important than ever before. The holy month of Ramadan is a gateway to all, observant or otherwise, to pause, reflect and re-connect with our collective humanity; and it is incredibly exciting to be able to continue hosting the UK’s largest community event in Ramadan this year.
"Covid-19 may have impacted on all of our Open Iftar events to have been called off, but Ramadan is not cancelled, and we pride ourselves on being a dynamic and innovative organisation. Our virtual Iftar’s will provide a platform for people to safely unite, share their experiences and achieve a sense of belonging, at a time when it’s needed the most.”
Since the pandemic took hold West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has been bringing together faith groups by holding weekly online meetings chaired by the Mayor. The virtual round tables provide faith leaders with updates on Covid-19 from local authorities and public health experts, and on funding such as the Government’s support for the charity sector. The forum also gives them the opportunity to grill each week’s panel about issues that directly affect their communities.
So far 272 people have dialled in to listen to the briefings on the COVID-19 crisis, which will continue until the end of May. The weekly briefings are held at 5.30pm on Wednesdays and anyone can listen in by using the link https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5851449557036121611