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Strangers break bread at Ramadan tent in London park

Strangers break bread at Ramadan tent in London park

As dusk falls, shoes come off and hundreds of hungry diners sit cross-legged in a London park to break bread.

It is iftar: the traditional sundown dinner that follows 19 hours of fasting in London, part of an annual ritual observed by Muslims the world over to mark the holy month of Ramadan.

One of the sacred pillars of Islam, Ramadan calls on Muslims to abstain from all food, drink and even sipping water during the month's daylight hours.

So dinner takes on a special significance at the "open iftar" staged each year in a central London park.

Held in Bloomsbury, an elegant London district known for its garden squares and literary past, the "open iftar" is laid on for 30 nights by a small community group - The Ramadan Tent Project, which invites all comers to join them and eat for free.

"The more we can understand of each other's particular points of view, I think it's an essential part of us all sharing in a community. It's very easy to put people into little enclaves," said retired psychotherapist Anthony Royle, who attended with two friends.

The project began in 2013 when Omar Salha, then a postgraduate student, decided to set up a "home from home" for international students living in the city.

It has far surpassed Salha's first vision.

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