Speaking at the dinner were Dr. Jesse Ortiz, a former Woodland School Board trustee and counselor at Woodland Community College, who talked about the importance of human beings coming together such as during the 2012 Olympics, but noted that people still have a long way to go.
Ortiz spoke about a black couple would could not get married in their own Baptist Church because the congregation did not want to them to, and how an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was accused of being a terrorist-sympathizer because he was Muslim, despite his decades of government service.
"If we practiced the principles of the Olympics every day our world would be a better place," Ortiz said, "but we still have a long way to go." Former Woodland Mayor Art Pimentel also noted the unity reflected in the gathering, saying it was a place where people learned to understand one another.
"I've learned a lot from your culture," Pimentel said, adding that Woodland needed people like Shafqat in politics or simply more active in public service to provide the diversity necessary for effective local government.
Yolo County Democratic Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada echoed Pimentel's statements, noting that she had spent the day fasting and recognized the difficulties of having faith and perseverance.
"But I learned you can conquer this," she said, "You can let go of the gnawing feelings during the day " to demonstrate your commitment to your faith.
Yamada also noted the dinner was also a "manifestation of our Constitutional rights," where people of all faiths could exercise their freedom of religion and acceptance of one another.
Despite past and continuing pressures on individual Constitutional rights, Yamada added, "It's our responsibility to ensure that the words in the Constitution are fulfilled Our country is great because we can recover from those stresses " imposed on it.
Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig agreed, saying that although it was his first time in attending the dinner, he was impressed on the specialness of the occasion. "We're lucky to live in a country where w have the right to live free," he said.
Besides District Attorney Jeff Reisig, Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Raven and Manager Victims division of the DA Office, Laura Valdes, attended the dinner.
Abdus Sattar Ghazali adds:
The Woodland Democrat Editor, Jim Smith, like last year’s Iftar dinner, was present to cover the event. He was accompanied by his wife Penny Smith and daughter Jessica Smith.
The program began with the recitation of the holy Quran by Qari Hafiz Aamir Hussain followed by the English translation of the Quranic verses by little Aisha Sadiq. Bishop Dr. Bill Wagnon from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offered prayer before the Iftar dinner.
Woodland Mosque Treasurer, Zahoor Ahmad, was the MC of the program.
Khalid Saeed, Director of the Woodland Mosque, particularly thanked the Woodland clergy to grace the occasion. The clergy included: Rev. Ardith Allread of the United Methodist, Sylvina Frausto of the Holy Rosary Church , Bishop Russ Spring from the Woodland Ecumenical Ministries, Rev. Norm Callaway & his wife Ardith Callaway of Methodist Church.
Roz Stone from the Kiwanis Club also attended the iftar dinner.
The American Muslim Voice founding Executive Director, Samina Faheem traveled from Palo Alto to attend the gathering. Khalid Saeed introduced her as the pride of Muslim Community in USA.
Author and Journalist, Abdus Sattar Ghazali, traveled from Fremont, to attend the event. Khalid Saeed thanked him for his services for the Muslim community as a blogger, journalist and writer.
Khalid Saeed also thanked, all the Woodland mosque volunteers and all members of board of directors for making this event successful. He particularly thanked Woodland Mosque President Ahad Pervaiz, Vice President Ali Khadim, Treasurer Zahoor Ahmad and Property Overseer Naseer Ahmad for their extraordinary efforts in organizing this dinner.
The sumptuous dinner for the event was catered by Curry Corner Restaurant, Natomas, Sacramento CA.