PATERSON, NJ- When Councilman Shahin Khalique welcomed over 800 residents to a community Iftar in May one guest commented that Paterson’s vast Muslim population is “the most thriving and organized in the New Jersey.”

Hosting his own Iftar for more than 200 guests to his own community at Taj Restaurant on Friday, Al Abdelaziz put his own words on display.Playing host to not only residents, but also many of the city’s political leaders, including Mayor-Elect Andre Sayegh, current Mayor Jane Warren-Williams, Congressman Bill Pascrell, Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, Freeholder Assad Akhter, and council member Maritza Davila, as well as Khalique and incoming council member Lilisa Mimms, the local activist, and rumored council hopeful, offered a glimpse of the backing he’s likely to receive if he does indeed put his name forward. 

For Abdelaziz, however, the event was about much more than securing political support. “This was our third annual community Iftar, another opportunity for us to come together in unity,” he told TAPinto Paterson

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“It doesn’t matter what race you are, or what your religion is, we gather to break bread together as Patersonians.”

The guest of honor for the evening’s festivities was U.S. Senator Cory Booker who offered attendees a glimpse of his oratorical skills that have made him a force in Washington, D.C., a much sought after surrogate for Democratic candidates across the nation, and a regular addition to lists of potential future Presidential candidates.

Booker, who received an honorary key to the city from Williams told the audience that he had just returned from a trip to Afghanistan and Lebanon where he was struck by the love those he met had not only their country but also for America because of the “ideals and promise it represents to them.”

“I am so grateful that you have welcomed me to your table to share in this meaningful tradition,” Booker said. The event, he continued, was a reflection the community’s efforts to not only “call for what is good,” as instructed in the Quran, but also to “lead by example.”

“It was a great honor having Senator Booker in South Paterson,” Abdelaziz offered. “He is fight for our city and our country in Washington and was a pleasure to have him celebrating Ramadan with us.”