Open Iftar 2023: More than 3,000 attend final Ramadan event in Trafalgar Square

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Ramadan Tent Project has been hosting Open Iftar events in cities across the UK in celebration of the charity’s 10-year anniversary.

More than 3,000 people both with and without faith gathered in Trafalgar Square last night (April 20) to break their fast at the final Open Iftar event of this year’s Ramadan, before the start of Eid al-Fitr.

Ramadan Tent Project (RTP), the award-winning charity behind both the Open Iftar series and the wider Ramadan Festival, had been hosting events in 10 cities across the UK during the holy month in celebration of its 10-year anniversary.

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Inviting attendees to share food, conversation and listen to a host of speakers, the charity has taken its Open Iftar event to iconic locations including the V&A, Shakespeare’s Globe and Aston Villa FC in Birmingham.

The finale, at Trafalgar Square in London, ended up being revised from a sit-down meal to attendees having to stay standing due to heavy rain at the start of the evening. However, despite the weather, the queues for the event snaked right around the entirety of the square, as thousands lined-up to gain entry.

More than 3,000 people attended the final Open Iftar of Ramadan 2023 in Trafalgar Square. Credit: Ramadan Tent Project.More than 3,000 people attended the final Open Iftar of Ramadan 2023 in Trafalgar Square. Credit: Ramadan Tent Project.
More than 3,000 people attended the final Open Iftar of Ramadan 2023 in Trafalgar Square. Credit: Ramadan Tent Project. | Ramadan Tent Project

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, was among the speakers on the night, and prior to the event starting, he paid tribute to the Ramadan Tent Project and the significance of having the closing Open Iftar in the capital.

Mr Khan told LondonWorld: “It’s wonderful in Trafalgar Square, arguably the most famous square in the country, in my view the most famous square in the world, where we are opening our fast tonight.

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“The wonderful thing about tonight is there will be Muslims, there will be non-Muslims here as well, breaking bread, starting friendships, and it’s a really important part of the religion of Islam.”

Omar Salha, the founder of RTP, described the charity as a “beautiful gathering of different communities coming together from all faiths and none”.

Commenting specifically on the Ramadan Festival, he said it is a “great opportunity for people to learn about the month of Ramadan, to bring communities to come together from different faiths, and this is one of the key flagship initiatives that we have”.

Mr Salha referred to the attendance for the final evening as “stunning…and a true spirit of Ramadan”, before adding: “Ramadan brings people together, despite the weather. It’s not going to break us apart, and it’s great to have so many people of different faiths and none.”

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‘Incomparable unity’

Before the meals were distributed out among the crowds, attendees were treated to a series of speakers talking on the importance both of the RTP and of the month of Ramadan.

Rahima Aziz, trustee of the Aziz Foundation, a sponsor of the event, spoke in particular on the strength of community in London during Ramadan.

“London is a city that thrives on its diversity, on its inclusion, and its vibrancy,” she said.

“London is a city that embraces people from all walks of life, from all cultures, from all faiths and none. And while London is a beacon of multiculturalism, I’m still struck by the incomparable unity felt throughout the month of Ramadan, the sense of togetherness, the harmony, and the solidarity of our community.”

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Sadiq Khan, mayor of London, Cllr Hamza Taouzzale, lord mayor of Westminster, and Rahima Aziz, trustee at the Aziz Foundation, were among the speakers on the night. Credit: Ramadan Tent Project.Sadiq Khan, mayor of London, Cllr Hamza Taouzzale, lord mayor of Westminster, and Rahima Aziz, trustee at the Aziz Foundation, were among the speakers on the night. Credit: Ramadan Tent Project.
Sadiq Khan, mayor of London, Cllr Hamza Taouzzale, lord mayor of Westminster, and Rahima Aziz, trustee at the Aziz Foundation, were among the speakers on the night. Credit: Ramadan Tent Project. | Ramadan Tent Project

Throughout the evening, other speakers, such as Cllr Hamza Taouzzale, the lord mayor of Westminster and Shazia Arshad, head of communications and content creation at Islamic Relief UK, also took to the stage, before Mr Khan delivered a final speech ahead of the call to prayer.

“Our diversity is a strength to be celebrated, not a weakness to be denigrated,” he told the crowd. “We’re showing tonight that unity overcomes division, but also, we’re showing tonight we have far, far more in common that unites us than divides us.”

For more on the Ramadan Tent Project, and the work the charity does, visit its website.

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