ST. PETERSBURG — The Tampa Bay Area Muslim Association, St. Petersburg Islamic Community and St. Petersburg Islamic Society will join Mayor Rick Kriseman to host the 2nd Annual Iftar Dinner, at 7 p.m., May 30, at the St. Petersburg Coliseum.
"Last year we had over 640 people," Imam Abdul Karim Ali, chair of the event, said. "We can accommodate up to 800. We're looking forward to folks coming out."
The dinner is free and open to people of all faiths. The ifar is the traditional meal that breaks the fast during thwe holy month of Ramadan, which will begin on Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on the sighting of the crescent moon. During Ramadan, Muslims are obliged to refrain from food and drink during daylight hours. Believers break the fast with the iftar, or evening meal, after sunset prayers.
Ali said the first iftar dinner at the White House was held by President Thomas Jefferson. Many years later, First Lady Hillary Clinton hosted a reception for Eid al-Fitr, a celebration marking the end of Ramadan. The tradition of recognizing Ramadan continued under President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.
The theme of this year's St. Petersburg iftar dinner is "Compassion, Courage and Appreciation," said Ali, whose father, Joseph E. Savage, organized the civil rights era sanitation strike in St. Petersburg and after whom the city's sanitation complex is named.
Doors at the Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N, will open at 6 p.m. Al Ruechel of Bay News Nine will be the master of ceremonies.
Ali said dinner will be served after prayers at sunset, which will begin at 8:22 p.m. RSVP by Tuesday. Go to stpete.org/mayor_s_office/iftar_dinner.php.