London Mayor Sadiq Khan joined Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and other faith leaders for a virtual interfaith Iftar, which organisers said drew a record-breaking 19,000 online viewers.
The Iftar, marking the end of a day of fasting during the month of Ramadan, was hosted remotely by BBC presenter Mishal Husain.
The annual event, previously held in iconic landmarks such as St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London, was moved online this year amid the coronavirus lockdown.
It was organised by the Naz Legacy Foundation, a charity which seeks to promote education and integration into UK society. Participants included the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Imam Mohammed Mahmoud. MPs tuning in included Seema Malhotra, James Murray and Afzal Khan.
In a pre-recorded message, Rabbi Mirvis told the Iftar: “I’ve always been deeply impressed by the concept of the Iftar through which our Muslim friends reach out and connect with so many people, taking hold of the Iftar opportunity to promote and champion the type of values which can enhance our society.
“In the lead up to the coronavirus we witnessed such a worrying increase of hate speech and hate crime right across the world. And now that we are in the midst of this crisis, we are seeing an impressive level of unity – in our communities, on the street, in our towns and cities, national and global unity, as all of us confront the hidden enemy together. It is so crucially important that we take this sense of unity and empower it to exist well beyond Covid-19.”
“This is a Ramadan like no other with mosques left empty and families and neighbours unable to break their fast in each other’s homes or in community centres as they normally would. But I’m so proud that Londoners have been meeting virtually to celebrate the holy month, holding iftars with fellow Muslims and friends and neighbours of all faiths and backgrounds to show our enduring commitment to beating this virus in London together.”