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UK MP fasts with Muslims to show support amid COVID-19 crisis

The idea of a LibDem Iftar 'seemed like the natural thing to do, especially this year, during the coronavirus lockdown', Davey said

By Murtaza Ali Shah
April 26, 2020
The News/via Author

LONDON: A member of the UK Parliament, Sir Edward Jonathan Davey, on Saturday fasted and took part in an online Iftar, or breaking of the fast, with Muslims to show support for the country's community of three million observing the month of Ramadan under a strict lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Ed Davey, a Liberal Democrat leader and MP of Parliament for Kingston and Surbiton, took part by abstaining from food and drinks from sunrise until sunset and then shared his experience online.

The goal was to show solidarity with the UK's Muslim community, who have been forced to come to terms with a Ramadan behind closed doors, unable to congregate in the homes of friends and acquaintances for Iftar or to visit the mosque.

Muslims around the world are experiencing an unprecedented Ramadan, a holy month of prayers, fasting, and social congregation, under the shadow of the novel coronavirus.

Hina Bokhari, a British-Pakistani councilor for the Liberal Democrat party, organised the party's first ever day of fasting.

"This was the first time that a major UK political party held a party-led Iftar and encouraged members to volunteer to fast like this — a hugely-significant milestone,” said Bokhari.

Bokhari’s father, Naz, came to the United Kingdom from Pakistan's Sialkot city back in 1960, becoming the first diaspora headteacher in Britain. He inspired his daughter to become involved in politics when she saw the effects that budget cuts had on the education sector.

Speaking to The News, she said: "Pakistanis have made a rich contribution to the UK in all sorts of fields. Despite the UK being his adopted country, my father always encouraged us to make a positive contribution to wider society, which shaped who I am today.

"Through positive engagement, we can improve understanding and respect between different communities."

Davey, the MP, told The News: "When Hina suggested the idea of a LibDem Iftar so we could show solidarity with Muslims during Ramadan, it just seemed like the natural thing to do, especially this year, during the coronavirus lockdown.

"I must confess I didn't find fasting easy and did have a little water at one point — it certainly reminds you how tough it must be for people who go hungry everyday because they have little or no food or water."

In this regard, Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) Secretary-General Harun Rashid, who also took part in the activity, said: "It was a pleasure to join the virtual Iftar with Ed Davey ... and his colleagues who were all fasting in solidarity with Muslims.

"It was heart-warming to witness their commitment to fast the entire day to appreciate how Muslims carry out their duty to abstain from food and drink whilst continuing to go about their daily business.

"I hope actions such as this help us to bring greater understanding between people of all faiths and none and forge greater bonds of friendship," Rashid added.

Participants in the fast also raised money for charities tackling the cause of hunger in the UK — an issue that has been exacerbated over the past few weeks.