London’s Open Iftar is a melting pot of diplomacy and faith

Omar Salha, Ramadan Tent Project
Updated 11 June 2018

London’s Open Iftar is a melting pot of diplomacy and faith

  • We envisage having an Open Iftar in every major city in the UK and then the world
  • Open Iftar, which is held in a public garden in central London, now attracts 200 to 300 people from all walks of life every night during Ramadan

LONDON: When you see the word “diplomat” what springs to mind? A smartly suited state representative — or you, whoever you might be? Omar Salha, the founder and director of Ramadan Tent Project (RTP), which has evolved into the ever-growing Open Iftar movement, believes that everyone has the potential to be a diplomat for the causes they believe in.
“I think you can broaden out the concept of ‘diplomat’ beyond the idea of a person representing a state,” he said at an Open Iftar evening in London. “I think we are at a stage in our lives… where every single citizen has the capacity to become a diplomat, in the sense of representing an organization.”
This type of community activity plays an important part in combating negative stereotypes of Muslims, he added.
“This initiative, and many others that are unsung, helps people to believe in positive stories,” he said.
Salha launched RTP in 2011 while he was studying for an MA at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). He saw that many fellow international Muslim students, living away from home and family, were particularly isolated during Ramadan.
He decided to do something about this and came up with the idea of creating a communal space where students could come together to break bread.
The response was immediate and strong, with non-Muslims also attending what became known as Open Iftar in support of their fellow students.
Open Iftar, which is held in a public garden in central London, now attracts 200 to 300 people from all walks of life every night during Ramadan.
Salha is now studying for a Ph.D. at SOAS and he has big ambitions for Open Iftar.
“We envisage having an Open Iftar in every major city in the UK and then the world,” he said. “Open Iftar is an example of how public diplomacy and faith are amalgamated together. We are out here creating a space for people to interact with one another in terms of soft power.”


Italy’s Salvini drops Nutella due to Turkish ingredients

Updated 06 December 2019

Italy’s Salvini drops Nutella due to Turkish ingredients

  • Matteo Salvini: I found out that Nutella uses Turkish nuts and I prefer to help companies that use Italian products
  • Ferrero is one of the world’s bigger buyers of hazelnuts, but Italian production is not enough to sustain Nutella’s manufacturing

ROME: Italy’s right-wing opposition leader, Matteo Salvini, says he is no longer a fan of Nutella after discovering that the chocolate-and-hazelnut spread contains Turkish, rather than Italian, nuts.
Salvini, who heads the nationalist League, has previously posted selfies on social media while enjoying slices of bread covered in Nutella, which is made by Italian company Ferrero.
But at a rally Thursday evening in the northern city of Ravenna, Salvini said he had changed his mind about the product.
“I found out that Nutella uses Turkish nuts and I prefer to help companies that use Italian products. I prefer to eat Italian and help Italian farmers,” he said after a woman in the crowd suggested he eat a Nutella sandwhich to stay warm.
Ferrero had no comment. The Alba, Italy-based company is one of the world’s bigger buyers of hazelnuts, but Italian production is not enough to sustain Nutella’s manufacturing.
Salvini’s League is known for its “Italians first” motto and its defense of Made in Italy products.