By now, you heard the historic news: last Tuesday, the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta hosted the City of Atlanta's first-ever "iftar" dinner. The City Hall event, which featured keynote remarks from Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, brought together over 150 community members from a wide range of faiths and backgrounds to mark the month of Ramadan.
ISB Atlanta, the organization that founded the 100 Influential Georgia Muslims, as well as the annual 40 Under 40 Gala, hopes to make the City of Atlanta's iftar an annual event as well.
"Atlanta Muslims are and have been part and parcel of our great City," said Soumaya Khalifa, founder and executive director of ISB Atlanta. "I wanted to create an opportunity where they are recognized. Where our community is recognized and celebrated for its many contributions.”
Soumaya Khalifa also received the Phoenix Award from Mayor Kasim Reed, the highest honor that can be bestowed on a citizen for service to the City of Atlanta.
Participants viewed this event as a momentous step in the right direction, particularly in light of recent hate speech and hate crimes targeting Muslims.
“Given the current political climate worldwide, to be in a room with such influential and impactful individuals from all professions, cultures and faiths was history in the making. I hope our city continues to move forward," said Tousif Chouhan, an Atlanta attorney.
Because the crowd of attendees was greatly diverse, the event left many with a feeling of unity and empowerment.
Hiba Ghalib said, “To be able to rub shoulders with such distinguished members of the Atlanta community, from all backgrounds and walks of life, all there for one purpose, was simply surreal...Last night reminded me that although we may have our moments where we may feel weak, collectively, our voices reverberate and will echo throughout history.”
Guest at the dinner also said the event has the potential to inspire further change and growth for not only the Muslim community, but the City of Atlanta as a whole.
Edward Ahmed Mitchell, the executive director of the Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said, “The City of Atlanta's first Ramadan iftar was a powerful symbol of progress for the Georgia Muslim community.”
Hiba Ghalib said, “ I’m prouder than ever to call Atlanta my adopted home, and look forward to continuing this work. It's about time we take advantage of our beautiful diversity and use our collective voices to pave the way for a brighter future.”
All agreed that the City of Atlanta’s Inaugural 2017 Iftar was a memorable event, one that Atlanta Muslims hope to mark their calendars for years to come.
Here is what others had to say about the event:
Soumaya Khalifa: "Atlanta Muslims are and have been part and parcel of our great City. I wanted to create an opportunity where they are recognized. Where our community is recognized and celebrated for its many contributions. The Isb has created that through our 100 Influential Georgia Muslims and Forty under 40 Georgia Muslims and now through the Inaugural Mayor Ramadan Iftar. I truly appreciate Mayor Kasim Reed and his walking the walk of inclusivity. "
Noor Abbady: “Last night's Iftar was historical. A much needed affirmation to a community that can't seem to get a break to breathe and heal from the pain and wounds inflicted on it. Many thanks to Mayor Kasim Reed, and lots of gratitude to the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta.”
Nabile Safdar: “I was impressed by the energy and incredible potential for accomplishing good works that the community had during Mayor Kasim Reed’s inaugural iftar. We had incredibly hard working, accomplished folks from all backgrounds who have dedicated their time to service and building bridges all together buzzing with energy after 3 weeks of fasting. Wow! I’m looking forward to working with this group and the city to be a part of Atlanta’s great story going forward. It is events like the inaugural City of Atlanta iftar that help us realize our community’s potential and catalyze our own positive change.”
Tousif Chouhan: “As a native of Atlanta, being invited to break fast during the month of Ramadan with Mayor Kasim Reed and former Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens showed the positive progress our city has made over the years. Given the current political climate worldwide, to be in a room with such influential and impactful individuals from all professions, cultures and faiths was history in the making. I hope our city continues to move forward.”
Emad Hamid: “It was a very rewarding experience to attend such a blessed gathering and listen to highly inspirational speeches by the honorable Mayor Reed plus others, while surrounded by many friendly people from diverse backgrounds who all share a common unifying vision.”
Edward Ahmed Mitchell: “The City of Atlanta's first Ramadan iftar was a powerful symbol of progress for the Georgia Muslim community. It's a belated signal that our elected officials finally recognize that Islam and Muslims are part of the fabric of our society. We must now transform this symbolic progress into practical progress by pursuing better policies for all Georgians, starting with the City of Atlanta.”
Faraz Iqbal: “The Mayor's Iftar reaffirmed hope at a time where this reaffirmation is needed. It showed that Atlanta is one community and we are there to support each other. Very humbling experience.”
Jelena Naim: “I was moved by Mayor Reed's brief review of Atlanta's historical choice of a commitment to inclusion and welcome, and how that lead to the economic, educational, and cultural leadership of Atlanta in the South. This is a lesson to all Americans. When reps of all Atlantans can sit in City Hall to enjoy the Islamic Ramadan Iftar dinner, it demonstrates that we are all family, we are there for each other to grow and prosper peacefully.”
Amin Tomeh: “The inaugural Iftar demonstrated, that at a time of rampant divisiveness, the city that's too busy to hate gathered us over nourishment for body and soul. Being true to its mission, ISB Atlanta built the bridge that made this special occasion possible. I look forward to more opportunities to reinforce what makes America and our shining city great.”