Press Release – 24 May 2019

The East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre hosted its Annual Iftar Dinner on the theme of ‘Bringing Communities Together’, for both Muslim and non-Muslim guests, on Wednesday 22 May 2019, the seventeenth night of Ramadan. Iftar is the breaking of the fast, which at this time of the year is at almost 9pm in London. Our special guest was Malaysia’s Minister of Health, Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, who was accompanied by other senior officials (and family members) including the Malaysian High Commissioner, Datuk Mohamad Sadik Kethergany, Deputy Minister of Entrepreneurship Development, Datuk Seri Dr Mohammed Hatta Ramli, and Deputy High Commissioner, Datuk Seri Mohammed Suhaimi Jaafar. They were joined by faith and community leaders, head teachers, politicians and academics.

East London Mosque chairman, Muhammad Habibur Rahman, welcomed guests:

I am delighted to see new faces tonight and old friends. We are grateful that a number of distinguished world leaders, diplomats, ministers, Members of Parliament, and academics have graced us with their presence today. We have been hosting the Annual Iftar for more than 10 years, and successfully brought communities from all backgrounds, cultures faiths and non-faith together. This year is particularly important given the tragic events in New Zealand and Sri Lanka.

Following the chairman’s welcome, Shaykh Ahmad Rajab, one of our guest Imams for Ramadan from Egypt, recited from the Holy Qur’an. Shaykh Mohammed Mahmoud, Senior Imam of the East London Mosque, explained the significance and spiritual benefits of fasting in the month of Ramadan.

Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, addressed the audience, highlighting the need to protect religious freedom and minority faiths and communities:

It’s so important that we work together at an international level, with our friends and partners across the world, including in Malaysia, as well of course as the different communities that make up this country.

In his keynote speech, Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad praised the East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre for its inclusivity and celebrating diversity, emphasising the importance of tackling prejudice and intolerance:

We must not be undermined and subverted by all forms of bigotry, whether it is ethnic, racial or religious. God says in the Qur’an, ‘O you who believe, stand up as the standard bearers of justice and truth.’

Other guest speakers and guests included: Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs; the new Mayor of Islington, Cllr Rakhia Ismail; Chair of Tower Hamlets Interfaith Forum, Rev Alan Green; President of the Nelson Street Synagogue, Leon Silver; Co-Chair of the Faiths Forum for London, Jasvir Singh OBE; Official Representative of Somaliland to the UK and the Commonwealth, Ayan Mahamoud; Co-Founder and Director of Forward Thinking, Oliver McTernan; MP from Manchester and formerly Lord Mayor of Manchester for 2005–2006, Afzal Khan; Founder of Gulf Matters, Bill Law; Chairman of Yunus Emre Centre in London, Dr Mehmet Karakus; Representative of the Turkish Presidency and former Istanbul Member of Parliament, Abdulrahim Boynulkalin and, author and co-founder of Medical Aid for Palestinians, Dr Swee Chai Ang.

Messages of support were also received from the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally; and from the embassies of Sri Lanka, New Zealand and Turkey.

Shaykh Abdul Qayum, Head Imam of the East London Mosque, offered prayer supplications as the time of fasting drew to a close, then upon the call to prayer after the sun set, guests enjoyed a meal of Malaysian cuisine.