A group of about 75 people gathered on a recent evening for the annual CAIR-Pittsburgh iftar, an event that again reminded me of the power each of us has within us.
By: Anthony Moretti
The 2022 theme was “Unity Through Compassion,” which one of the presenters, Sloane Davidson, eloquently discussed.
Davidson is the founder of “Hello Neighbor,” a local non-profit that assists people from all over the world as they begin their new lives in and around the city. Davidson told her audience that such people are quickly lumped together under the title of refugee and such a label can cause the uniqueness in each person to be ignored. Davidson challenged everyone to acknowledge that each refugee has a name, a spirit and a series of gifts all their own.
I don’t think anyone directly aided by “Hello Neighbor” was at the iftar, but I do hope they know how powerful an advocate they have in Davidson. I couldn’t help but think how fascinating it would be to hear such people talk about the journey that has taken them from some distant part of the world to Pittsburgh. Saying that, I’m cautious to ensure such conversations don’t turn into uncomfortable emotional moments for the people telling their stories; the audience must remember the presenters are obligated to share only what they want, and they should not be seen as individuals who must entertain.
I especially enjoyed the diversity in the room at the iftar. My table, as just one example, included a retired Muslim couple who trace their roots to India and a family friend and her son with family in Pakistan. Three generations among five people. In addition, there were at least three major faiths represented, as Muslims, Jews and Christians intermingled as friends.
The unity among the attendees is especially relevant now. We’re all well aware of the rampant “anti” sentiments that exist in the U.S. and around the globe. The virulent and ugly anti-Muslim words and actions that polluted our world roughly two decades ago have tempered, but they’ve not gone away. More recently, anti-Asian hate has dominated the headlines. Combine those with ever-present racism, and all of us know how committed some people are to undermine the fragile and necessary civility all societies need if they are to thrive. We who know better must never be silent.
Ramadan should be an especially blessed time for Muslims, and I was honored that Christine Mohammed, CAIR-Pittsburgh’s executive director, invited me to this year’s iftar. More importantly, I spent an evening with great people and great conversation as I was reminded of just how important it is to be an ally to all.
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