London Mayor Says Even Non-Muslims Should Fast for Ramadan


boris-johnsonBoris Johnson, the Mayor of London, has urged non-Muslims to fast for a day during Ramadan and then to break their fast at a mosque to improve their understanding of Islam. Speaking at the East London Mosque and London Muslim Center, he said that Muslims in the capital were challenging traditional stereotypes to show that they wanted to be part of mainstream society.

Most of the 1.6 million Muslims living in Britain are thought to observe the tradition of fasting between dawn and dusk during Ramadan, which began on August 22 and ends on September 20.

Johnson said: “Whether it is in theater, comedy, sports, music or politics, Muslims are challenging the traditional stereotypes and showing that they are, and want to be, a part of the mainstream community.

“That is why I urge people, particularly during Ramadan, to find out more about Islam, increase your understanding and learning, even fast for a day with your Muslim neighbour and break your fast at a local mosque.”

He added: “There are valuable lessons people of all backgrounds can learn from Islam, such as the importance of community spirit, family ties, compassion and helping those less fortunate, all of which lie at the heart of the teachings of Ramadan.”

Muhammad Abdul Bari, chairman of the East London Mosque, welcomed Johnson’s visit, although it was criticised by Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, who said that he risked widening social divisions. “This message obviously seeks to flatter Muslim voters, but that does not make it any less of a silly overstatement. We can all get on together – Christians, Hindus, Muslims and atheists,” he said. “But the moment religion becomes a political tool, it takes on sinister overtones.”

The Home Office Islamic Network takes a similar line to Johnson. The network says that non-Muslims should consider fasting for a day and also asks non-Muslims to be sensitive when eating lunch near a Muslim who is fasting. In Personnel Today magazine, Rachel Krys, of the Employers’ Forum on Belief, writes: “Something as simple as not having biscuits at a team meeting would demonstrate sensitivity to what Muslim colleagues are doing.”

{Times Online/Noam Newscenter}