PATERSON, NJ- Though perhaps not possible to prove, the assertion by local activist Al Abdelaziz that Paterson’s Muslim population is the most thriving and organized in New Jersey wasn’t made completely devoid of evidence on Saturday.

Joined by several elected officials including Mayor-Elect Andre Sayegh, Councilwoman-Elect Lilisa Mimms, and Board of Education Commissioner Joel Ramirez, as well as Passaic County Freeholder John Bartlett, more than 800 Paterson residents packed the JFK High School cafeteria to celebrate 2nd Ward Councilman Shahin Khalique’s annual Community Iftar.

Translated as “break fast”, an iftar is the evening meal those of the Muslim faith partake in following a day of fasting during the month in which Ramadan is observed.

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Also among the dignitaries was recently re-elected Councilwoman Maritza Davila. Given the chance to speak Davila offered thanks to those that had gathered offering her assurance that she will continue to work to earn their support.

As the crowd left following the dinner Davila made it a point to praise her colleague Shalique, whom she referred to as a “good friend,” telling TAPinto Paterson his efforts in organizing the dinner are indicative of his work to “bring the community together.”

 “Ramadan is one of the most sacred events amongst Islamic communities. People gathering to break their fast together is a symbol of the deep connection we have as a people,” Khalique shared in a Facebook post after the event. After wishing those observing the month a “safe and prosperous” Ramadan Khalique urged all of Paterson to continue to “come together and celebrate what makes us a family!”