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Muslim groups in Missouri to highlight city’s diversity, challenge stereotypes through food festival

halal,Missouri : The Imam Council of Metropolitan St. Louis (ICMSTL), representing the city’s 18 Imams (Islamic religious leaders) and the Missouri chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Missouri), will organize “The Great Muslim Cook-Off and Food Festival” on August 13. The World’s Fair Pavilion in Forest Park will host the festival aimed to showcase city’s diversity as well as to challenge stereotypes.

It is the first St. Louis international food festival displaying the tremendous diversity of the city’s Muslim population through food. “Our goal is to showcase the diversity of American Muslims through various international dishes cooked every day in our community,” said Faizan Syed, executive director of CAIR-Missouri. “What better way to challenge the growing anti-Muslim hysteria than through food? We hope that our neighbours will come out, break bread, or nan in this case, and get to know their Muslim neighbours a little better.”

The food festival will feature several local Muslim-owned restaurants with meals from around the world. Guests will be able to shop in the bazaar for not only unique edible delights but also for clothing, henna art, and much more. There will also be a food competition with various dishes that will be entered into a six-category competition with prizes. All dishes entered will be halal, kosher, or vegan, including an under 13 children’s category.

The St. Louis chapter of the Islamic Circle of North America Relief (ICNA-Relief) with Volunteers in Medicine will be conducting a health fair in order to provide free basic health services to guests along with medical services in case of injury. The league of Women Voters will be organising a voter registration drive. The exhibition is public and family friendly.

“Sharing a meal with a stranger is a universal value to build friendship, break down barriers, and build community,” said Sadia Ali, event coordinator for the food festival. “Our food festival is unique because it empowers the local Muslim community to share its diversity, culture, and traditions through the medium of food. A langue that all of us understand and gravitate towards.”

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organisation. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

—SM/IINA

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