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World

ONLINE
July 5, 2015
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Houston Mayor hosts annual Iftar dinner

Houston Mayor hosts annual Iftar dinner
Raja Zahid A Khanzada
HOUSTON: The Mayor of Houston hosted annual Iftar dinner which was attended by members of U.S. Congress, Consul Generals of two dozen different countries and including hundred of muslin citizens.

The Annual Iftar Ramadan Dinner, which has become a tradition in the metropolis over the past 15 years, was held at the Bayou City Event Center. The entire hall was filled with nearly 1800 people with organizers and elected officials from across the city.

This year’s event was chaired by Sunny Sharma, and coordinated by Muhammad Saeed Sheikh. Abu Dhabi, Baku, Basrah, Istanbul and Karachi, in conjunction with the Islamic Society of Greater Houston along with 50 plus community organizations were the host.

The event, which was emceed by Nadia Gire, opened with prayers by Zara Khan and verses from the Quran in Arabic by Nihat Yesil, followed by a discourse on the “Human Values in Islam” by Imam Imad Enchassi of Oklahoma City.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and after her, Congressman Al Green both were delighted to be at the Iftar and vehemently decried the hate crime in Charleston.

“What is meant for evil turns into good,” remarked Lee. “Ramadan is the season for coming together.” She emphasized that there was no room for discrimination for people in this country. Green echoed her sentiments.

“This gathering shows how much we appreciate each other,” she said, adding, “All religions are based on forgiveness. Sacrifice and suffering can teach us to live as brothers and sisters in peace.”

Later, Texas Governor Greg Abbott sent his videotaped greetings and felicitations which were broadcast to the entire hall.

The Mayor chose to end her speech to the packed hall with a story with a moral, cupping her hands as she spoke.

“The future lies in your hands,” she declared. “Let us join hands together and make the world a better place.”

Parker recalled how the annual dinner used to be called the “Mayor’s Iftar Dinner” when it began as a small gathering on the steps of City Hall and was first organized by then Councilman M.J. Khan. It has moved to other venues, like the GRB Convention Center and in recent years has grown to the large scale event that it is now.

At her urging, the name was changed to Houston Iftar to reflect the role and desires of the local community. “We are an international city. In Houston, friendly is a noun, not an adjective,” Parker continued, “It is a place of tolerance and diversity.”

Organizing Committee Coordinator Muhammad Saeed Sheikh recognized all the officials and dignitaries, which included Guest of Honor S. Javaid Anwar, the President & CEO of Midland Energy & Petroplex Energy, who has been the main sponsor of the event for the fourth year running.

Prominent organizing Committee members were Mian Nazeer, Cristal Montañéz Baylor, David Godwin, Zafar Khan, ILyas Choudry, Khalid Kazi, Ruhi Ozgel, Irada Akhoundova, Deanea Leflore, Haroon Mughal, Saleena Jafry & many others.
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