World Bulletin / News Desk
The Union of Arab Communities of South Africa on Sunday organized an interfaith iftar – fast-breaking meals during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan – for several religious groups in Johannesburg's predominantly-Muslim suburb of Mayfair.
"We organized the interfaith ifar to create unity between Muslims and other faith groups in the area," Union Chairman Abdeslam Habiballah Ahmed told Anadolu Agency.
He said the event – attended by more than 200 people – was sponsored by his organization in partnership with the Pan-African Business Forum.
Ahmed said Muslims and other faith groups live in harmony in Mayfair, which is one of Johannesburg's most diverse areas, where thousands of Muslims, Christians and Hindus coexist.
After breaking the fast, a Muslim representative, Mohamed Zaaki, made a public prayer in which he called for unity, love and cooperation in the community.
Reverend Francine Mpume and Mama Mukwazi, both from Christian faith groups, also said a public prayer.
The various faith groups present at the function interacted happily, dancing to gospel songs and listening to sermons and prayers delivered by Muslim speakers, according to an AA reporter.
At one point, a Muslim speaker greeted the audience with the Islamic greeting "Assalamu Aleikum" – "Peace be upon you" – to which the mostly non-Muslim audience enthusiastically replied, "Waliekumu salaam."
"I am happy that we can interact freely, eat and pray together, irrespective of our different faiths," Nomatando Pricilla told AA at the event.
She said it was a way to promote tolerance in society.
Another resident, who only gave his first name, Malume, said he was looking forward to seeing more local interfaith events.
"It would be nice to see more of these uniting events," he told AA.
The interfaith function did not lack a political aspect.
Organizers and attendees voiced their support for a candidate affiliated with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) who is contesting by-elections for a ward councillorship in the area.
"It's part of the moral obligation of the union of Arab communities to support the ANC because it [the party] stands for Arab issues, especially the Palestinian cause," said Ahmed.
He added that the ANC had welcomed Muslim migrants and refugees from Arab countries, Asia and Africa when, he claimed, western countries had closed the door to them.
"South African people and the ANC are friends of Muslims and the Arab people," Ahmed said.
The Union of Arab Communities brings together several migrant communities from Arab-speaking countries who reside in South Africa.Last Mod: 30 Haziran 2014, 15:33