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The 7th Iftar dinner was held on May 23rd.  H.E. Sabine Sparwasser, Ambassador for the Federal Republic of Germany, was the Keynote Speaker. Several elected representatives from all levels of government and from the Diplomatic Corps attended.   

The event was supported by His Worship Mayor Jim Watson, Mrs. Tina Sarellas, Regional President, Ontario North and East Region,  RBC Royal Bank, TD Bank, Goldy Hyder, President and CEO of Hill + Knowlton Strategies, TD Bank and Councillor Michael Qaqish. 

President Mobeen Khaja welcomed the guests and thanked Mayor Jim Watson and the sponsors for their ongoing support. He said that the idea of hosting Iftar dinners came to him after watching videos given to him by the US Ambassador David Jacobson 7 years ago of the Iftar dinners hosted by President Barack Obama for American Muslims at the White House. He quoted President Obama who said  the following:  

'Here in the United States, Ramadan reminds us that Islam is part of the fabric of our Nation, and that-from public service to business, from healthcare and science to the arts- Muslim Americans help strengthen our country and enrich our lives.  Even as Ramadan holds profound meaning for the world's 1.5 billion Muslims, it is also a reminder to people of all faiths of our common humanity and the commitment to justice, equality, and compassion shared by all great faiths. In that spirit, I wish Muslims across America and around the world a blessed month and I look forward to again hosting an Iftar dinner here at the White House.'

In his welcome to Her Excellency Sabine Sparwasser, Mobeen said 'Ambassador, your country took more than a million refugees- men, women and children who were uprooted from their homeland and desperately looking for a safe haven  and this was possible because of the remarkable leadership of your Chancellor Angela Markal and your nation believing in compassion, caring and kindness.'

President Mobeen Khaja also said 'We are saddened and shocked about the loss of life in Gaza, where more than 60 unarmed men, women and children were killed and more than a thousand were seriously injured. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims. Please join me for a minute of silence to pay respects to the victims.' 

Mrs. Tina Sarellas, brought greetings from the Royal Bank of Canada, Ms. Fadia Mankal from the TD Bank Group and Mr. Muhammad Ali from Hill + Knowlton Strategies.

In her speech, H.E. Sparwasser said that when she was invited many months ago to speak at this Iftar dinner, she wondered why Mobeen had done so.  She came to the conclusion that 'he invited me to stand in for another, much greater German woman: for Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Her decision in September 2015 to keep German borders open and to allow more than a million refugees, most of them from Syria, into Germany is seen by so many people - and especially by Muslims all over the world - as a deeply moral, humanitarian and courageous step.

It was a transformational moment in modern German history: it forced us to look deeply into us - what kind of country we are and what kind of country we wish to be.

Even though Germany for many has been home to millions of people from other countries - the single largest group being Muslims from Turkey - we had always managed to avoid the question of whether we were a country of immigration.

This is a mood of our times. Growing antagonism, nationalism, religious extremism, coarsening of the tone seems to be universally on the rise.

We have seen it before: to divide groups into “them” and “us” is easy. In a world in flux, it gives people a sense of belonging and identity.

But nobody knows better than Germans: if we allow borders to be drawn according to religious, racial, ideological lines, if you allow language that vilifies and dehumanizes others, we are on the path to destruction. It will lead to societies falling apart and conflict among nations.

We today have a real need and responsibility to defend the values of pluralism, democracy and civil discourse. We: that means Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Non-Believers. We: that means all nations. And Germany and Canada in particular. Because we bring to this defense some special experiences and assets.

We are both countries based on the values and principles of enlightenment: we are open societies with equal rights for everyone.'

For full speech, please click here.

Sandulak's polar bear sculpture of a mother with cubs was presented to her Excellency. Retired Chief Armand La Barge was the emcee for the evening.  

Some photos from the event.
L-R: Mobeen Khaja, Akaash Maharaj, Hamid Akbar, H.E. S. Sparwasser, Imran Hasan, Ali Qureshi Mobeen Khaja, Mrs. L. Unal, Deputy Mayor Bob Monette, H. E. Selchuk Unal, Ambassador for Turkey. H. E. Selchuk Unal, Mrs.Unal, Tina Sarellas, Bob Monette, Mobeen Khaja
H.E. Kamal Bashah Ahmad of Brunei, Tina Sarellas, Anees and Mobeen Khaja Tina Sarellas with her RBC Team and Mobeen Khaja Tina Sarellas greeting H.E. Aminathun Saharuddin of Malaysia
H.E. Karlis Eihenbaums, Ambassador for Latvia, H.E. Kamal Bashah Ahmad of Brunei, Ali Qureshi, Mobeen Khaja Jerry Sherman of Embassy Connections, H. E. S. Sparwasser, H.E. Karlis Eihenbaums and Mrs. Inara Eihenbaums H.E. Tariq Azim Khan, High Commissioner for Pakistan with H. E. S. Sparwasser
Deputy Bob Monette welcoming the guests on behalf of Mayor Jim Watson H. E. S. Sparwasser giving her keynote speech Retired Chief Arman La Barge, H. E. S. Sparwasser with gift and Mobeen Khaja
H. E. Tariq Azim Khan and H. E. S. Sparwasser, Tina Sarellas, Regional President RBC James J. Sitler of RBC
Mr. Muhammad Ali from Hill + Knowlton Strategies. Fadia Mankal from the TD Bank Group Our young volunteers, Rodaina Ibrahim, Juweriah Munir and Rehmat Munir with Deputy Mayor Bob Monette.
You will recognize most of guests in the last two photos