Breaking barriers: A unifying Iftar

Hyderabad: The aroma of freshly cooked biryani wafted through the air as guests began to gather for an Iftar like no other. This wasn’t just any evening of breaking fast; it was an event infused with a mission — a mission of unity and peace.

Hosted by the Siasat Daily, the Iftar held on Tuesday evening promised to be an unforgettable affair. As guests settled into their seats, murmurs of anticipation filled the room. The customary supplications seeking mercy and forgiveness from Allah echoed, setting the solemn yet hopeful tone for the evening.

However, there was more to this Iftar than the usual rituals. It was a platform for a powerful message of Hindu-Muslim unity, one that would resonate long after the evening ended. The highlight of the event was a seven-minute film titled India – a poignant narrative that mirrored the realities of communal tensions through the lens of a cricket match. In a nation where cricket is more than just a sport, the film ingeniously used the game to convey its message.

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The scenes unfolded with raw emotion, portraying the inherent animosity and prejudice when Hindu and Muslim players face off on the field. Communal slurs pierce the air, and provocative gestures add fuel to the already simmering fire. A Hindu player, bowling to a Muslim batsman, displays hostility with every delivery, culminating in a clean bowl on the first ball. The subsequent taunts, urging the batsman to “take the flight to Pakistan,” further exacerbate the tension.

The coach, a beacon of wisdom and reason, can no longer contain his disappointment. With a heavy heart, he walks out in a huff, leaving behind a team torn apart by hatred.

But amidst the turmoil, a glimmer of realization emerges. The young players, shaken by their own actions, call out to their Sikh coach, a symbol of unity in diversity. Together, they sing Allama Iqbal’s famous poem, “Sare Jahan Se Achha,” their voices echoing the spirit of a harmonious nation.

The film reaches its crescendo as the coach returns, bearing a powerful message of unity. He hands out a single stick to the warring players, which they snap effortlessly. Then, he presents them with a bunch of sticks which they can’t break. An indelible symbol of strength in unity.

A profound silence enveloped the audience as the weight of the message settled in. Teesta Setalvad, the tireless rights activist, who released the film, spoke passionately, emphasizing the need for collective action against hatred and division.

She congratulated Siasat Editor, Zahed Ali Khan, for the initiative. News Editor, Amer Ali Khan, said the film is made in six languages including Urdu, Hindi, Telugu, Marathi, Kannada and Bengali with English subtitles. And it is available on Siasat TV.

Setalvad paid homage to the late Zaheeruddin Ali Khan, recognizing the Siasat family’s commitment to noble causes. The film, she believed, would compel people to introspect on the path they tread, challenging them to choose unity over discord.

In her brief speech, she reflected on the course of events in the last one decade. “Who knows it better than the Muslims,” she remarked.

Referring to the electoral bonds issue, she said it is nothing but chanda do, dhanda lo matter. The mention of the jailed former IPS officer, Sanjiv Bhatt, served as a stark reminder of the battles yet to be fought.

As the evening drew to a close, guests gathered around tables laden with sumptuous Hyderabadi delicacies. Amidst laughter and camaraderie, the barriers of religion and prejudice seemed to melt away, replaced by a shared sense of purpose.

This Iftar was indeed an ‘Iftar’ with a difference. It was a beacon of hope, a call to action, and a celebration of unity in diversity. And as guests departed, their hearts and minds touched by the evening’s message, they carried with them a renewed commitment to breaking barriers and building bridges.

In a world often divided by differences, the Siasat Iftar stood as a testament to the transformative power of unity, reminding all who attended that beyond the divides of religion and culture; we are, at our core, one.

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