WASHINGTON, DC: Nearly a hundred dignitaries, among them a number of current and former diplomats, attended the first ever iftar dinner hosted by the United States Institute of Peace at its headquarters in Washington, DC, on July 24.
Among the attendees were Afghanistan Ambassador to the United States Ahmad Eklil Hakimi, his wife Sultana Hakimi; top Iraqi diplomat in Washington Ambassador Lukman Faily, Nigerian Ambassador Adebowale Ibidapo Adefuye, USIP Vice Chairman George Moose, former assistant secretary of state for the bureau of African affairs Johnnie Carson and former US envoy to Denmark Laurie S. Fulton.
Welcoming the guests, acting President of USIP Kristin Lord said “the principles that are the hallmarks of Ramadan” — “charity, sacrifice and compassion” — are also “the values shared by other faiths and belief systems here in the United States and around the world.”
“Tonight while we celebrate (iftar) together, let us consider how we can build broader and deeper bonds of mutual understanding, mutual respect and cooperation among people of all faith,” she said.
The event was sponsored by Indian American entrepreneur and philanthropist Frank Islam and his wife, Debbie Driesman.
“Debbie and I were honored and delighted to sponsor the inaugural Iftar celebration held at the US Institute Peace,” Islam told The American Bazaar. “I firmly believe that such events bring our communities together. They provide a forum for interfaith dialogue and help us build bridges of understanding and cooperation among various faiths. Ramadan is a time to pray and reflect and to reaffirm our commitments to helping those who are less fortunate.”
Islam and Driesman, both prominent Democratic Party donors, have been strong financial supporters of the institute. Islam also serves on the USIP’s International Advisory Committee.
Iftar dinners have become part and parcel of the annual calendars of various government agencies and departments since the then-First Lady Hillary Clinton began the White House iftar tradition in 1996. This year, the White House hosted its iftar on July 14, the fifth under President Obama. Earlier on July 1, the Pentagon hosted its 16th iftar honoring Ramadan.