Eid Festival Stage
London – Sana Bekki
The Iraqi flag flew high in Trafalgar Square, the heart of the British capital London, the site of an event marking the Muslim Eid Al-Fitr festival, which was organized under the auspices of the Mayor of London and held on second of August 2014.
Thousands flocked to the festival with significant numbers of Arab Community representatives enjoying the festivities. This was partly due to the important role Arab and Muslim centers and cultural organizations played on the day.
The Iraqi Culture Center in London was one such organisation, aiming to represent Iraq at the festival. Their stand was very popular with the Iraqi artist Sadik Tohme writing calligraphy of visitors names. Visitors were delighted and surprised by this personal touch, commenting that this ‘reflected the best image of Iraq,the history and civilization of the country’.
Iraqi artist Sadik Tohme
The strong Arab and Iraqi presence at the festival was intended by the organizers to introduce British society to the unique cultures and traditions of the participating countries.
A strong presence from the UK’s Arab community was in part due to the support of leading Iraqi Zainab Al-Farhan Al-Imam, founder of the Women’s Growth and Success Forum. Zainab shared with Nina –
“ By participating in the Eid Festival we aim to show British society the richness of Arab culture and to consolidate Arab women’s presence, especially Iraqi women, in the cultural sphere.”
The Iraqi artist, Najat Bekki, who participated in the festival through her paintings and artwork collection depicting Iraq’s Folkloric heritage shared with Nina that her aim was to represent her country as a whole.
“It is important that we show the full array of different religious, ethnic and political groups. My paintings express my wish that Iraq will be safe and peaceful once again. I wish for my country to be once again be a place where you can see a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew, an Arab and a Kurd, all in one street.”
Organiser Zainab Al-Farhan
Several representatives from countries with large or majority Muslim populations participated in “Eid Festival”. They included officials from, Iraq, Morocco, Algeria, Turkey, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and the UK.
Events in this year’s festival incorporated exhibitions of Arab and Asian folklore, as well as fashion shows from India, Morocco and the Gulf. As part of the festival, a photo exhibition was also organized with the aim of “reflecting the spirit of Ramadan.” With a high visitor turnout, the gallery displayed photos depicting Muslims performing their religious rituals during the holy month of Ramadan in different countries around the world.