AP NEWS

Members of different faiths break Ramadan fast together Wednesday

June 22, 2017 GMT

BRIDGEPORT — The downstairs area of the Bridgeport Islamic Community Center was packed with well over 200 people of different ages and different faiths to break the Ramadan fast Wednesday evening.

The BICC hosted a Community Interfaith Iftar that began at 7 p.m. and was expected to last until 9 p.m. Iftar is the meal eaten by practicing Muslims after sundown during Ramadan, the month of fasting. In the U.S., Ramadan began on Friday, May 26, and ends on Saturday, June 24.

A panel of members of different faiths started the evening with a discussion led by President and CEO of the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport Reverend Cass Shaw.

Imam Mohamed Abdelati, of the BICC; Rabbi Evan Schultz, of the Congregation B’nai Israel in Bridgeport; and Peter Morse, the vice president elect of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Bridgeport, were the three panel members.

Abdelati started the evening off by saying the center will always be a place of worship open to people of any and all beliefs.

“Good relationships are not built on sharing a faith,” he said.

Mayor Joseph Ganim said he believes people from all different faiths are looking forward to more events like this in the future.

“Working together and being supportive is important,” Ganim said.

Schutlz encouraged everyone to find a way to love and respect others. He said to remember that even though there may be some “evil” people in the world, the good will always outnumber them.

“Reach out to people of all walks of life,” he said.

The fast was broken with dates and water, following Muslim tradition. After, everyone was welcome to pray or observe those participating in the sunset prayer.

Ahmed Ebrahim, president of the BICC, said this year’s turnout was the biggest yet. Throughout the evening, additional tables and chairs were brought out as more people arrived.

Melanie Blevins, of Bridgeport, said she wasn’t surprised by the turnout.

“It’s really cool to have the opportunity to branch out,” Blevins said.

In relation to the Islamic faith, Ebrahim stressed that people try to understand that the teachings of Islam preach for peace to humanity and submission to God.

Hanan Olabi, of Bridgeport, attended the Iftar with her husband and their three children.

“Evenings like this remind us to live in peace with everybody,” Olabi said.

The panel members said that in order to keep making positive progress with interfaith interactions and relationships was finding out more about each other.

“Do some reading,” Schultz said. “Learn about one another. Educate yourself.”