Chicago Mayor Emanuel hosts Iftar for area Muslims

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel accepts gift from host of Iftar dinner at the Chicago Cultural Center.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel accepts gift from host of Iftar dinner at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Chicago, (IINA) – More than 275 Muslims attended an Iftar dinner hosted by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday night at the Chicago Cultural Center in the Loop, promising that he will pursue inclusion of all ethnic groups including Arabs and non-Arabs, The Arab Daily News reported.

Emanuel greeted all of the attendees and was joined by Chicago Alderman Joseph Moore of the 49th Ward. Moore is often applauded as being the “Alderman of Chicago’s Muslim Community” because of the large number of Muslims who live in his North Side ward and his strong support of Muslims throughout the city of Chicago.

Several American Arabs also attended the dinner and applauded as Mayor Emanuel spoke against hate, violence and the need for everyone to be included and his remarks were interrupted repeatedly by enthusiastic applause.

“I want this city, a city with a Jewish Mayor and a vibrant Muslim community to send a message loud and clear across this globe. If you offer hate, we offer love. If you offer fear, we offer hope. If you offer intolerance, we offer inclusion. And if that is the message of the city of Chicago, the city we call home, the city our parents came to like my grandfather,” Emanuel said.

“I want the rest of the country to see what I see and hear. Whether it is Christian, whether it is Jewish, whether it is Muslim. It has many languages. It has a common understanding of humanity. And it is our inclusion and our hope and our love that will beat out that hate, that fear and that exclusion.”

Emanuel shared the story of his grandfather who immigrated to America at age 13 after fleeing the pogroms of Europe, not able to speak a word of English and seeking out a third cousin to help him in the city.

“That within two generations his grandson would be the mayor of this city speaks volumes of who we are as a city and who we are as a community,” Emanuel said noting that all of the attendees had similar stories including Sadiq Khan, the newly elected Muslim mayor of London, England. Emanuel said he phoned Mayor Kahn to congratulate him on his achievement as the first Muslim Mayor of England’s largest city.

The mayor was introduced at the event by Muslim political activist Salman Aftab, who served as the co-chair and coordinator of the Iftar Dinner.

“Mayor Emanuel has much love for the city and he has done more for his citizens than most. In this time of Islamophobia and vilification, he did not turn his back on us. On the contrary, he sits here with us against those voices who try to separate us,” Aftab said.

“Let us carry the spirit of Ramadan not just today but everyday and let us work with the mayor to bring all Chicagoans regardless of religion or ethnicity together.

After beginning the program by asking attendees to offer a moment of silence and prayer for the victims of the terrorist attack that morning at Istanbul, Turkey’s Ataturk Airport, and for the victims of other terrorist attacks including in Orlando, Florida, Alderman Moore reminded the audience not to take the evening for granted.

“Muslims, like Christianity, like Judaism and like all the major world religions, their fundamental tenets talk about peace and love and forgiveness, not hatred, not terror.

At the end of the presentations, just before the evening prayers, Aftab and other organizers presented Mayor Emanuel with an oriental rug as a token of their appreciation.

Emanuel stayed for the entire event, including during the prayers before the buffet foods were served. Among those attending the dinner were many American Arabs.

Maghrib prayers were led by Imam Senad Agec with a Qur’an Recitation by Sheik Feysal Mohammad.


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