From Voices of NY
Scott Stringer’s Eid Celebration
by Rahimon Nasa
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer hosted an Eid celebration in Queens where he honored prominent members of the Muslim community on July 23.
The event took place at Gulshan Terrace, a banquet hall in Woodside, which was packed with guests. Imam Ismail Sayeed opened up the celebration with a prayer he recited in Arabic, followed by an English translation. Shahara Ahmed from the Muslim Women Writers Collective performed a spoken word piece about what Ramadan means for Muslims.
“I’m proud to stand with you to celebrate,” said Stringer after Ahmed spoke. “This community can teach us a number of important lessons like the need for self-reflection as a city that’s battling rising levels of inequality and pushing culturally sensitive services.” Stringer cited among those services the possibility of adding halal choices in public school lunchrooms and the recent addition of two Muslim holidays to the public school calendar.
Stringer then proceeded to honor active members of the Muslim community in the city, whom he and his staff chose by reaching out to different community organizations. The honorees included Debbie Almontaser, president of the board of directors of the Muslim Community Network, Imam Souleimane Konate, general secretary of the Council of African Imams, Shahana Masum, member of the board of directors of the Bangladeshi American Advocacy Group (BAAG) and the Coalition for Muslim School Holidays. Each of the honorees received a plaque from the comptroller.
“This award is all of our award because you are my community,” said Almontaser when she came up to the stage to accept her award. She also called on the audience to recognize the work Stringer has done for the Muslim community. Almontaser is the former principal and founder of the Khalil Gibran International Academy. Alamontaser had taught and trained teachers about multiculturalism in the city’s schools for 23 years.
“After 9/11 I can’t even believe I could come here. I can’t believe Allah can give us so many opportunities,” said Masum after Stringer presented her with her award.
Stringer commended members of the Muslim community on their work in getting Eid adopted as an official holiday on the school calendar. He said that this achievement is not only one for the Muslim community but the entire city as it helps other students learn about another culture.
Assemblymember David Weprin and lawyer Ali Najmi were also present at the celebration, as was Rebecca Lynch, who is stepping down as assistant commissioner in the Community Affairs Unit. Both Lynch and Najmi are running for the City Council seat in the 23rd district in Queens which was vacated by Mark Welprin, who is taking a post in the Cuomo administration.