Ramadan 2017 in Bloomsbury: An evening breaking fast and sharing food with strangers (Evening Standard)

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Victoria Stewart attends a public iftar during the Muslim festival of Ramadan

Sitting cross-legged on the floor of a huge marquee, it is only when my neighbour offers me a bowl of dates to share, before quickly swigging from a bottle of water, that I realise a huge feast has begun. Nodding at my sister who is seated a few places down from me, we follow suit.

Then 14 days into the Muslim festival of Ramadan, Kubra, a British Turkish architecture apprentice sitting to my right, tells me that it has been a long day of fasting – she last ate just before she went to sleep the night before – but that it feels nice to be here sharing iftar [the meal eaten around sunset when followers of the Islamic faith can break fast] with people she has never met, including me. Indeed, only last week, Prince Harry was photographed in Singapore doing a similar thing – sharing iftar with some of the Muslim community there.

Tonight I have come for the second time to a public iftar in Malet Street Gardens in Bloomsbury. Set up by RTP, an initiative that as well as running a media channel, social action projects and workshops for youths, also runs Open Iftar, inviting anybody to share the breaking of fast during Ramadan.

To read the story, which appeared in full in The Evening Standard in June 2017, click here