Two years on from the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, Muslim Aid and Kensington’s Al Manaar mosque worked together to provide a commemorative iftar, providing a space for the local community to come together, remember and heal.
It was addressed by speakers including the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan; communities secretary James Brokenshire, Kensington MP Emma Dent Coad; broadcaster Jon Snow and community speakers including Shahin Sadafi and Mouna el-Ogbani, survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire.
Sadiq Khan said: “It is a real honour to be able to join members of this remarkable community to break my fast. They’ve shown extraordinary resilience throughout the last two years, and are a shining example of the difference it makes when neighbourhoods unite and support each other. For me that is what Ramadan is all about, coming together with Londoners of all backgrounds to show empathy, charity and hospitality.”
And Muslim Aid’s Global Advocacy Manager, Lotifa Begum, said: “Today’s iftar will provides an opportunity for people of all backgrounds to come together, eat together, and remember together. It’s also an opportunity for public figures in attendance to help ensure Grenfell is never forgotten, and the needs of a grieving community are met.”
London’s Muslim community were both heavily affected by the tragedy and part of the local civil society which was central to the emergency response. Muslim Aid subsequently partnered with local organisations to produce a report on the importance of local social sensitivity, and how community organisations should be involved in future emergency response.
The Al Manaar Mosque and Muslim Aid have worked to support the victims of the fire and the wider community, and continue to fund a counsellor to meet the needs of around 100 families.
The event, which was broadcast live on BBC News, was part of a series of street iftars across the UK that aim to bring people together and strengthen our communities in the context of xenophobia and social polarisation.
After the speeches, people broke their fasts with dates, fruit and water before being served Moroccan harira soup and biryani.
Abdurahman Syed of the Al Manaar Mosque said: “Our mosque and our wider community were devastated by the Grenfell Tower tragedy, and two years later, it feels as if very little time has passed. We continue to provide spiritual and emotional support as well as professional counselling to people affected by the fire. “We hope that our iftar will contribute to the healing process; giving people a chance to cherish the memories of those we lost, and to reaffirm our commitment to each other.”
Meanwhile, Shahin Sadafi of Grenfell United reminded people that two years on, there was still a huge needs gap. He said: “We need to remember that, two years on, there is still a big needs gap with survivors and bereaved families still not housed or still lacking other practical and psychological support. This is a community that has suffered, but also has shown tremendous resilience and dignity throughout the troubles we have faced in the last two years.”
“This anniversary is one of remembrance, and recommitment to looking after each other, for there is still a long way to go to find healing and justice for those lost and those damaged and neglected.”