SEVENTH OTTAWA CITY
HALL IFTAR DINNER - MAY 23, 2018
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
event was supported by His
Worship Mayor Jim Watson, Mrs. Tina Sarellas, Regional President, Ontario
North and East Region,
TD Bank, Goldy Hyder, President and CEO of Hill + Knowlton Strategies, TD
Councillor Michael Qaqish.
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
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
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.'
brought greetings from the Royal Bank of Canada, Ms. Fadia Mankal from the
TD Bank Group and Mr. Muhammad Ali from Hill
+ Knowlton Strategies.
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
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
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
For full speech, please click
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.