Muslims Giving Back, other organizations hosts a meal for unity

People of different religions broke bread together as Muslims Giving Back, a non-profit organization that tries to fight hunger by providing food to less fortunate, hosted a meal that symbolized unity and peace in Sunset Park.

Citing the heightened levels of violence over the past few months, the organization stressed that the meal, which included people from a variety of religions and races and of differing social status, was a way to come together to celebrate diversity.

Others involved in organizing the repast, held at the Muslim Community Center, 5218 Third Avenue, on Sunday, July 9, included Action Corps NYC and Love Trumps Hate Sunset Park, a grassroots organization that works on bridging the gap between new neighbors and undocumented families

“It is an honor to have such amazing allies and friends who are not afraid to break down walls to get to know their neighbors,” said Mohamed Bahe, founder and director of Muslims Giving Back. “It is extremely empowering toward our community to see such beautiful people willing to reach out and help towards our well-being. It shows us that love does indeed trump all forms of hate.”

Councilmember Carlos Menchaca was on hand and called the event a huge success. “The Muslim community, with all communities of color, has been hit especially hard by the hateful rhetoric and policies of the Trump administration,” he said. “As a gay Mexican-American, I’m proud to stand with my Muslim brothers and sisters, with immigrants, and with all of those who support love over hate, unity over xenophobia, and say ‘we will not be divided.’ I will continue to fight hate in all its forms and support dignity of all people as councilmember for District 38.”

The inclusive nature of the dinner sent a message that no one should be discriminated against, said organizers.

“Everyone should have a seat at the table,” said Isaac Evans-Frantz of Action Corps NYC, a group that focuses on U.S. policies on foreign aid, food and climate. “Muslim groups played a pivotal role in our group’s International Women’s Day event several years ago, and ever since have been kind and committed allies.”

“This community dinner provides a wonderful platform and opportunity for three separate groups to come together for a common purpose,” added Founder of Love Trumps Hate Sunset Park Shanna Castillo, adding that she hopes the sign of unity will become a trend. “It is important to express to our Muslim neighbors that they are not alone and that they are welcomed and respected in our community. I am encouraged that this will be the first of many community bonding experiences.”

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