Zoom Iftar launched to unite millions during Ramadan coronavirus lockdown

Group which made history hosting open Iftars at Westminster Abbey and Wembley Stadium uses Zoom and Facebook in lockdown

Muslims previously celebrating Eid in London. Reuters
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A group which hosts the UK’s largest open invitation events to break the fast is launching a virtual Iftar to unite millions using Facebook and Zoom as Muslims face strict lockdown rules during Ramadan.

The Ramadan Tent Project was originally launched to hold cross-community iftars and holds official events bringing together political leaders and the faithful.

After making history by hosting the first open Iftars at Westminster Abbey, Wembley Stadium and Trafalgar Square, it has turned to virtual means to ensure the community can still unite during the coronavirus outbreak.

Ramadan, which is due to start in two weeks, is set to be held under emergency laws in the UK and elsewhere around the world as strict measures to contain the virus are extended.

Omar Salha, Founder and CEO of the Ramadan Tent Project, said it is important people are able to share a sense of belonging at this time.

“At a time of physical distancing, being at service to our community and honouring our mission of bringing communities together, is more important than ever before,” he said.

“The holy month of Ramadan is a gateway to all, observant or otherwise, to pause, reflect and re-connect with our collective humanity; and it is incredibly exciting to be able to continue hosting the UK’s largest community event in Ramadan this year.

“Covid-19 may have impacted on all of our Open Iftar events leading to them being called off, but Ramadan is not cancelled, and we pride ourselves on being a dynamic and innovative organisation.

“Our virtual Iftar’s will provide a platform for people to safely unite, share their experiences and achieve a sense of belonging, at a time when it’s needed the most.”

The Iftars will be accessible via online meeting room Zoom and streamed live through Facebook.

The events are free and each person who signs up receives a pack that provides all the tools needed to host an Iftar experience at home, whilst being a part of a virtual community, every day of Ramadan.

The virtual Iftars will broadcast a live call to prayer, host an array of guest speakers, and allow households to share their Iftar experiences with one another.

It is hoping to host the world’s largest virtual Iftar on the first day of Ramadan.

A spokesperson for the group said: “With the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic likely to continue and peak in the UK during the month of Ramadan, Ramadan Tent Project has turned to innovative means to unite thousands of people whilst bringing the Open Iftar experience to people’s doorsteps

“We launched our contingency plan for Ramadan this week, offering our solution to keeping the community and Ramadan spirit alive amidst physical distancing.”

The Iftar package includes a recipe book by Asma Khan, owner of Darjeeling Express restaurant, Ramadan and Islam factsheet, food samples, decorations and a coronavirus wellbeing book.

During Ramadan last year the group took part in an event hosted by the CPS Muslim Netword.

The group, which launched in 2013, has previously hosted more than 100,000 people from all backgrounds across the UK and the world, in over 10 cities and four continents.

People can sign up to a #MyOpenIftar pack at www.openiftar.co.uk/my.