Sadiq Khan hails Jewish attendance at Ramadan Lights switch-on as sign of ‘hope’

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Sadiq Khan hails Jewish attendance at Ramadan Lights switch-on as sign of ‘hope’

Board of Deputies vice-presidents Edwin Shuker and Amanda Bowman and Nisa-Nashim founder Laura Marks at central London event as 30,000 lights switched on

Justin Cohen is the News Editor at the Jewish News

Sadiq Khan, Ramadan, central London, March 2024. Pic: AP
Sadiq Khan, Ramadan, central London, March 2024. Pic: AP

Sadiq Khan has described the attendance of Jewish and other faith leaders at the switching on of the Ramadan Lights in central London as a sign of “hope” amid rising hate in the capital.

The Mayor of London switched on the display of 30,000 lights in the West End on Thursday night in front of a crowd of hundreds ahead of the start of the Muslim holy month. The spectacle – supported by the Aziz Foundation – shows sun set and sun rise to represent the times between which Muslims can break their fast during the month.

Speaking at a reception attended by Board of deputies vice-presidents Edwin Shuker and Amanda Bowman and Nisa-Nashim founder Laura Marks, Khan said “the  lights will be beacon for those who want to bring people together and believe there’s far more that unites us than divides us. There are forces in this city, the country and the globe who want to try to find differences and divide us .

“It could be within the Muslim community, it could be Muslim and Christian, it could be Muslim versus Jewish people. We must not allow them to divide us. Our diversity makes us stronger not weaker.”

Turning to event MC and Aziz Foundation trustee Rahima Aziz, he added:  “Every year one of the proudest things I do is turn on the menorah lights to celebrate the wonderful Jewish festival of Chanukah. From now onwards there will be Muslims and non-Muslims coming into central London to celebrate the Ramadan lights. What a wonderful legacy that is.”

For the first time this year, the Ramadan Lights will transform into Eid greetings at the end of the festival.

Ramadan lights, central London, March 2024. Pic: AP

Aziz Foundation founder Asif Aziz said: “Now more than ever, we must find opportunities to bring people of different faiths together to actively counter those who would tear us apart. That’s why we were delighted to be joined by leaders of the Jewish and other communities for this special event at which we were able to publicly celebrate the diversity of our great capital city.”

Laura Marks said: “I’ve been to the lighting of the Menorah in Trafalgar Square many times and have admired the stunning Christmas lights in London. While I am very aware of tensions and even fear in our own community right now, the very normality of celebrating the festival of our British Muslim neighbours was not only joyful but it was also reassuring. We lit the lights, we chatted and schmoozed, we ate vast quantities of food and we greeted old and new friends. It didn’t dispel the dark times but it allowed me to see where there is light.”

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