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Everyone at the Iftar gathered with a banner

On Friday 14th April, Monmouthshire County Council opened its doors to its first ever Ramadan Iftar event at County Hall in Usk. The event was attended by the Monmouthshire Muslim Community Association, the Muslim community, the Leader, Councillors, members of cabinet and other officials.

The community came together to listen, open their Ramadan fasts with foods from three countries and pray together. An eloquent presentation by a respected Imam Ustad Faisal Khajjou and the Muslim community led to an informative Q&A session.

Iftar is an important event for the Muslim community. After evening prayer and sunset, Muslims break their fast with Iftar. Traditionally, those observing Ramadan break their fast by eating three dates, to emulate the way the prophet Mohammed broke his fast. Then, Iftar begins — a celebration with plenty of food, family and friends.

Monmouthshire County Council’s Leader, Cllr. Mary Ann Brocklesby, Chief Executive Paul Matthews and members of the Cabinet engaged with representatives of the Muslim community on the challenges it faces.

Council Leader, Cllr. Mary Ann Brocklesby said: “ I was honoured to co-host this ground breaking event with the Monmouthshire Muslim Community Association. I know it will be the first of many. It was wonderful to gather together in fellowship and community and a privilege  to speak with representatives of the Muslim community and to hear of their experiences and their needs. I am proud that Monmouthshire is welcoming, inclusive and embracing of all cultures and faiths and is a place where anyone would want to live and work.”  

Cllr. Catherine Fookes, Cabinet Member for Equalities said: “We were delighted to host Monmouthshire Muslim Community Association’s first Iftar at County Hall this week. It enabled people of different faiths, backgrounds and ages to come together and learn from each other. Sharing this kind of experience is a great way of breaking down barriers and increasing community cohesion and understanding. A huge thank you to our Community Cohesion officer Shajan Miah who helped make this happen.’

Naheed Ashraf, Regional Carers Strategic Programme Lead, said: “I would like to praise Monmouthshire County Council for the incredible respect, dedication and commitment they have shown to the Muslim local community and their families in Ramadhan 2023. With the Leader and CEO opening up the Council’s chamber for a wonderful Ramadhan Iftar event, they themselves fasted alongside Muslims as a commitment to their unity and have certainly paved the way in real integration.

“We all discussed ideas, ate lovely food and prayed together. It really opened my eyes up to true humanity and I have never seen anyone else take forward this kind of leadership cohesion in Wales. The event was welcoming, embracing and a real meaningful stepping stone in building cohesive communities. With Monmouthshire making this difference to benefit so many people, it makes me proud to be Muslim and Welsh.”

Maddie Saraireh of the Monmouthshire Muslim Community Association said: “The MMCA is honoured to have co-hosted the first ever Ramadan Iftar in partnership with Monmouthshire County Council at County Hall, Usk, on Friday 14th April. A very successful community event indeed, and may it be the first of many to come. MMCA would like to thank Monmouthshire County Council for its continuous support to the Muslim community in Monmouthshire, that significantly and positively contributes to the richness and diversity of the county.”

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