London’s Open Iftar is a melting pot of diplomacy and faith

Omar Salha, Ramadan Tent Project
Updated 11 June 2018
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London’s Open Iftar is a melting pot of diplomacy and faith

  • We envisage having an Open Iftar in every major city in the UK and then the world
  • Open Iftar, which is held in a public garden in central London, now attracts 200 to 300 people from all walks of life every night during Ramadan

LONDON: When you see the word “diplomat” what springs to mind? A smartly suited state representative — or you, whoever you might be? Omar Salha, the founder and director of Ramadan Tent Project (RTP), which has evolved into the ever-growing Open Iftar movement, believes that everyone has the potential to be a diplomat for the causes they believe in.
“I think you can broaden out the concept of ‘diplomat’ beyond the idea of a person representing a state,” he said at an Open Iftar evening in London. “I think we are at a stage in our lives… where every single citizen has the capacity to become a diplomat, in the sense of representing an organization.”
This type of community activity plays an important part in combating negative stereotypes of Muslims, he added.
“This initiative, and many others that are unsung, helps people to believe in positive stories,” he said.
Salha launched RTP in 2011 while he was studying for an MA at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). He saw that many fellow international Muslim students, living away from home and family, were particularly isolated during Ramadan.
He decided to do something about this and came up with the idea of creating a communal space where students could come together to break bread.
The response was immediate and strong, with non-Muslims also attending what became known as Open Iftar in support of their fellow students.
Open Iftar, which is held in a public garden in central London, now attracts 200 to 300 people from all walks of life every night during Ramadan.
Salha is now studying for a Ph.D. at SOAS and he has big ambitions for Open Iftar.
“We envisage having an Open Iftar in every major city in the UK and then the world,” he said. “Open Iftar is an example of how public diplomacy and faith are amalgamated together. We are out here creating a space for people to interact with one another in terms of soft power.”


Former manager of Marvel’s Stan Lee arrested for elder abuse

Updated 26 May 2019
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Former manager of Marvel’s Stan Lee arrested for elder abuse

  • Keya Morgan “will go before a judge and eventually (be) extradited to Los Angeles to face charges”
  • Lee died last November at the age of 95 after suffering multiple illnesses over the years

LOS ANGELES: Late Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee’s former manager was arrested in Arizona on Saturday in connection with allegations of elder abuse, fraud, theft and false imprisonment, Los Angeles police said.
Keya Morgan “will go before a judge and eventually (be) extradited to Los Angeles to face charges,” according to a statement released by the Los Angeles Police Department.
Lee, who revolutionized pop culture as the co-creator of iconic superheroes such as Spider-Man and Black Panther, died last November at the age of 95 after suffering multiple illnesses over the years, and had been the victim in an elder abuse investigation that began in March 2018.
His former attorney, Tom Lallas, last year sought a restraining order against Morgan, claiming that the 43-year-old was a “memorabilia collector who inserted himself into Mr. Lee’s life as his caregiver” and isolated him from his loved ones.
Lallas accused Morgan of exploiting Lee, who he said was exhibiting signs of short-term memory loss and impaired judgment, amid a struggle over the comic-book mogul’s fortune, estimated at over $50 million.
In addition to issuing the restraining order, Los Angeles authorities also arrested Morgan last year for making false calls to 911, alleging that Lee’s life was in danger.
Police say he made the calls in order to convince Lee to leave his Hollywood Hills residence and move to a secured condo in Beverly Hills last June so he would be isolated and under Morgan’s control.
Police also accuse Morgan of stealing, including by staging autograph signing sessions worth $262,000 — money that never made it into Lee’s coffers.
Following last year’s restraining order, Morgan told TMZ that he had “taken great care of Stan Lee for the past many years, and... never had a problem directly with Stan.”
“I will 100 percent prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the allegations against me are false,” he said at the time. “The truth will come out.”