Nueces Mosque connects with Latino community over shared meal

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The Nueces Mosque was the target of racially charged threats recently. This is one of several incidents aimed towards Muslims in the past months around campus.
Photo Credit: Briana Vargas | Daily Texan Staff

Inspired by the “Taco Truck at Every Mosque” campaign that began in Santa Ana, California, the Nueces Mosque in West Campus hosted a community gathering Tuesday night to connect and show solidarity within the Latino community.

After learning about a similar event featured in the LA Times in early June, the Imam of the Nueces Mosque, Mufti Mohamed-Umer Esmail, prompted mosque members to participate in the now national campaign uniting the two minorities.

“We wanted to bring together both communities during the month of Ramadan, showing our unity, bond and support for each other,” said Shadia Igram, a Muslim activist and one of the event organizers.

Sharing dinner is a symbolic gesture of kindness and community during the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims focus on prayer and introspection, all while not eating or drinking anything from sunrise to sunset. A Top Taco food truck catered Tuesday’s iftar, the breaking of fast at sunset, with halal beef, chicken and vegetarian tacos.

Igram said the event organizers reached out to Latino community organizations, such as the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and used Facebook to promote the gathering.

Marina Vasquez, a nurse and UT alumna, said she was invited by a friend. Vasquez, who is non-denominational, had never been to a mosque, but decided to attend in order to learn more and show support.

“I think it's wonderful,” Vasquez said. “I think it's a measure of love that we're trying to show each other and trying to connect so that we understand each other better.”

The Nueces Mosque hosts daily, free iftar dinners for Ramadan every year. The student-run mosque gathers donations from members and the city’s Muslim community year-round to fund catering for iftar and special events.

Omar Bheda, Nueces Mosque president and management information studies junior, said events like the “Taco Truck at Every Mosque” campaign strengthen the community by also making the religious community more inclusive of Latino Muslims.

“It’s a means to connect us and make us a more stronger unit, especially in the current Trump America,” Bheda said.

Ramadan began on May 26 and will end this Saturday, but Igram said communities should continue not letting politicians in the media cause division.

“We are here to support one another, any way we can because that’s what we do as Americans, and it’s what we do as Muslims,” Igram said.