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A Ramadan Dinner For The Whole Newtown Community

An Iftar hosted by the Al Hedaya Islamic Center drew more than 100 community members.

Ramadan, the traditional Islamic month of fasting and prayer, can be more than just an Islamic holiday. It can also be an American holiday.

At least, that's the hope of the Al Hedaya Islamic Center, which hosted its first annual "Sharing Ramadan" dinner, geared toward Muslims and non-Muslims alike, Thursday night. Al Hedaya encouraged all members of the community to attend and learn about Islam and Ramadan.

"We want all people, not just Muslims, to say 'Happy Ramadan' when Ramadan comes," said Al Hedaya after-school director John Burrow. We have to open our doors and share our space with non-Muslims so that Ramadan becomes not just a Muslim holiday but an American holiday."

In the spirit of that message, more than a hundred guests joined them, including First Selectman Pat Llodra and Selectman James Gaston. While it's the first such event for Newtown, "Sharing Ramadan" is part of a project launched by CAIR, the Center for American-Islamic Relations.

"There's a great thirst to learn about Islam," said Connecticut CAIR Executive Director Mongi Dhaouadi. "Usually at these events you'll notice a spike in contacts. We try to concentrate on people who are in the community. So many relationships have developed from that."

Mahoudi previously organized "Sharing Ramadan" events in New London, where he said there is a "depth" of Islamic connections in the community. Newtown's Al Hedaya Center opened in 2009 and is located at 115 Mt. Pleasant Road. The center includes a full-time school, youth groups and after-school program.
pj kerry July 30, 2013 at 04:38 PM
Well said shaul. Unfortunately, as long as so many people depend on bigots like limbaugh and hannity for their information, the haters will continue with their warped views.
Lk July 30, 2013 at 08:14 PM
Newtown4- Well said! I agree that we should be cautious and concerned.
Garret K July 30, 2013 at 08:36 PM
John Woodall: You'll need to try again, sir. The WashPo link you provided does not say McVeigh was directly involved in any Christian Identity movements. Please know I am an atheist/humanist, and I could care less about Jesus and all that stuff. But even I can see how Islam is determined to assault and kill Americans and other Muslims, and how christianity is hardly a national or worldy threat. For you to try and pin chrstianity, even a twisted form of it, onto McVeigh as some justification for you to tolerate Muslims is pretty thin.
John Woodall, MD July 30, 2013 at 10:56 PM
Oh, by the way, I don't "tolerate" Muslims because extremes Christians exist and make a one to one cancellation. I love my Muslim friends here in Newtown because I know them personally and they are good decent people. It is an honor to know and love them. I don't "tolerate" them. I would again ask you to read this::http://www.johnwoodall.net/2011/02/05/fantastic-coffee-and-my-shock/#axzz2aaUZFJFp Then, ask yourself what is it in Islam that could evoke such a response? It is the best in any religion. The best that humans are capable of in horrific circumstances. I can not deny the death of my friends. I can not deny the truth of the beauty of this response in Bosnia. They are both true of Islam. My experience with Islam is direct, personal, studied, longstanding, both deadly and life-affirming. It is nuanced and complex. It is not black and white. My dead friends remain dead, killed by Muslim extremists. I can choose hate. I refuse to. Simple as that. You can choose otherwise, but I would suggest it only adds to the division and conflict and grants neither personal or social peace.

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