How local Muslims are feeling at the start of Ramadan amid ongoing war in Gaza

Ali Bazzi
Posted at 6:14 PM, Mar 11, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-11 18:16:11-04

(WXYZ) — Today marks the first day of Ramadan, with Muslims across the country gearing up to make the most of the holy month by fasting and helping those in need.

Here in metro Detroit, it's no different, but the community is sad to see the annual Suhoor Festival canceled this year. However, they say it, too, is for a good cause.

For the Arab and Muslim community across metro Detroit, the Ramadan festival is their pride and joy during the holy month. With a footprint of nearly two football fields, and a whopping half a million dollars budget, the annual festival attracts over 100,000 people in attendance.

It used to be held right at the Fairlane Town Center parking lot, but this year the event has been canceled, and I'm going to find out what the community has to say about it.

Last year, a Dearborn resident, Moad Taled attended nearly every weekend.

"It was something ... to celebrate Ramadan together," he said.

Lebanese immigrant Diana Elhourani loved taking her two kids to the event.

"It brings happiness to Dearborn and the counties around," she said.

During Ramadan, Muslims don't eat or drink from dawn to sunset, making the festival a melting pot for all walks of life to enjoy over 80 food outlets, among other activities.

Owners of Booza Delight, May and Yasser Hashwi have taken part in the festival for the last few years. They say from food to fundraising, the event had something for everyone.

"We like to meet different people from every ethnic group and feel rewarding as we give back to the community," said May Hashwi.

Last year, over $200,000 was donated to The Amity Foundation. The proceeds also went towards over ten educational scholarships, among other charitable initiatives.

VIDEO: Check out video from last year's Ramadan Suhoor Festival below:

Suhoor Festival celebrating Ramadan in Dearborn

I asked how people felt not having the festival this year.

"I don't think it's fair for us to have a huge event with what's happening overseas. And people are dying and people don't have money to eat. And we have this huge event at night and we are serving food," said Yasser Hashwi.

Another festival vendor and owner of Holy Cluck, Ali Bazzi, says standing in solidarity with Palestine was the only option.

"The organizers didn't feel comfortable, we as vendors didn't feel comfortable," said Bazzi.

He added: "You know we even thought about different ways, what if we donated all the money to Palestine. But at the end of the day it's a whole loop, right?"

Now for the official reason why the event got canceled, the organizer Hassan Chami says it's to stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine. As for the fundraising aspect, Hassan said there are several charitable initiatives across metro Detroit people can take part in and of course he does hope to bring back the event next year.

Check out the mission statement of the Suhoor Festival below:

Where Your Voice Matters

Contact our newsroom
Have a tip, story idea or comment on our coverage? Send us a message. Please be sure to include your direct contact information.