LONDON: Thousands of people celebrated Eid Al-Fitr in London’s Trafalgar Square, with the city’s mayor hosting the free festival.
This is the 14th Eid in the Square in London, an annual event celebrating the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting.
“We are celebrating this very important festival and the wonderful thing is that it isn’t just Muslims who are celebrating Eid, there are non-Muslims here as well, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and members of organized faiths and those that aren’t,” Mayor Sadiq Khan told Arab News.
“Here in London you are free to be who you want to be and you’re not simply tolerated, you are respected, you are embraced and you are celebrated,” he added.
Khan told the crowds that people of all faiths and none were welcome in the capital, adding that the “wonderful thing” about the city was that many Londoners realized when Ramadan was ongoing.
“Many non-Muslims are now fasting in solidarity. They know about iftar, they know about suhoor and it demonstrates that here in London you can be a part of London but also of different religions. “This year was wonderful as we had record numbers of non-Muslims here and that should demonstrate to the world why we are a beacon and why we are, in my view, the greatest city in the world."
The Mayor was joined on stage by the award-winning Hollywood actor, rapper and activist Riz Ahmed onstage.
There were performances from diverse acts including an Indonesian dance troupe, Syrian classical musicians, West African–European contemporary artists and spoken word poets.
Muslims and non-Muslims from London and beyond turned out for the event.
“Me and my friends decided to come for a day out, just in general, but then we saw the Eid festival was on so I was really intrigued to come and experience the diversity and cultural awareness of this amazing city,” said Ayesha Kholwadia, 19, from north London. She is from India and was raised in the UK. She was visiting the festival for the first time and said it was “beautiful” to see people from different backgrounds come together in the sunshine.
Joanne Clarkson was also at the festival for the first time. “I’m visiting from Bristol and I’m loving being here and celebrating Eid. I love the music and all the aspects of the culture,” she said.
This year’s Eid Festival coincides with #LondonIsOpen, a major campaign launched by the London mayor in 2016, to show that London is united and open for business. “Despite Brexit, London will always be open to the world, proud of our diversity and inclusive to everyone,” a statement on the mayor’s official website stated.