The Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers and Finn Church Aid hosted its annual interfaith Iftar on the theme of solidarity, courage and fellowship during the time of COVID-19. The program included presentations by globally renowned figures, including a Keynote address by United Nations High Representative of the Alliance of Civilizations, Mr. Miguel Ángel Moratinos and remarks by Mr. Adama Dieng, UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as well as Ms. Nancy Lindborg, President of United States Institute of Peace. In addition, the evening will include a dialogue-based discussion between Finnish spiritual leaders, including Bishop Kaisamari Hintikka, Espoo Diocese, Imam Anas Hajjar, Chair, Islamic Council of Finland, Mr. Yaron Nadbornik, Chair, the National Forum for Cooperation of Religions in Finland and Imam Abdirikak Sugulle, Helsinki Islamic Center. Discussions surrounded values that unite our communities, particularly during difficult times, such as this pandemic.
Despite the challenges in light of COVID-19, we have seen the global community unite to support and encourage one another, especially during holy celebrations, such as Easter and Passover. Muslims around the world are currently celebrating the holy month of Ramadan, which is a time for spiritual reflection, prayer and connecting with the family and community. During this month, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. The fast is broken each night during a meal called an Iftar dinner. This year, the month of Ramadan looks quite different as people practice social distancing and therefore, are unable to visit with friends and family to break the fast or pray in the mosque. As such, many people have turned to virtual platforms to continue the tradition of these celebrations. The Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers and Finn Church Aid utilized this new model in celebrating within their own Iftar event.