Iftar dinner celebrates Interfaith harmony










NSW Premier Mike Baird with Neera Srivastava (3rd from left)  and Saba Abdi (right)

By Vijay Badhwar


NSW Premier Mike Baird hosted an Iftar dinner at Parliament House on 24 July inviting the NSW Muslim community observing the Islamic holy month of Ramadan along with other community representatives.

Mr Baird had fasted during the day to reflect on the plight of less fortunate in the community. He said he had watched a colleague fasting during the month and wanted to relate on the experience first-hand.

Several members of the Indian community were present at the dinner, among them Saba Abdi, Neera Srivastava, Ashok Kumar, Sonia Gandhi and Raj Suri.

Inviting the Premier on stage, NSW Minister for Citizenship and Communities, Victor Dominello, described Mr Baird as a people’s person who “has single-handedly changed the State”.

The Premier reflected on the situation in Ukraine and Middle East where so many innocents had lost their lives. “We are united in grief and pray for them,” Mr Baird said.

“The focus and reflective nature of Ramadan supports our way of life, and is a timely reminder of the values we all share, including kindness, honesty, family and charity. These are values that contribute to the strength of our multifaith, and multicultural State, which the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government supports,” Mr Baird said.

In the background of underlying disquiet among the Muslim community following an email by the then Communities Relation Commission’s (CRC) Chairman, Vic Alhafeff, “Israel Under Fire”, in which he accused Hamas as a terror organisation and justified Israeli actions that took “care to avoid civilian casualties”, several prominent leaders of the Muslim community had boycotted the Iftar Dinner, among them NSW Labor MLC Shaoquett Moselmane.

The Premier assured the guests that there was “absolutely no place for religious intolerance in NSW”, and emphasised the importance of mutual respect. “The Muslim community will find “a strong friend in me”, Mr Baird said.

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