1000’s pack slim alleys in Cairo for Egypt’s mega-Iftar

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Cairo — The slim streets and alleys of a working-class neighborhood in Egypt’s capital hosted hundreds of individuals Monday who got here collectively to interrupt their Ramadan quick on the longest dinner desk within the nation. It was the tenth time that northern Cairo’s Matareya neighborhood had hosted the annual Iftar meal on the fifteenth day of Ramadan, and it was the largest thus far.

Organizers mentioned some 400 volunteers helped to line up about 700 tables alongside a handful of related, and ornately adorned, streets and alleys after which fill them with meals ready by neighborhood members. There was no official depend, however these behind the gathering claimed as many as 30,000 folks had turned as much as break their quick after sunset.

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Folks pack a crowded road in northern Cairo’s Matareya neighborhood for an annual mega-Iftar on the fifteenth day of Ramadan, March 25, 2024, in Egypt.CBS Information/Ahmed Shawkat

Hamada Hassan, one of many organizers, informed CBS Information the story of the mass-Iftar began 12 years in the past on the fifteenth night time of Ramadan when some native residents determined to interrupt their quick collectively after taking part in soccer. Nobody had a home sufficiently big to host everybody, so every went dwelling and acquired some meals. Then, they introduced two tables out onto the road and ate collectively.

Associates later complained they hadn’t acquired an invitation, Hassan mentioned, and the next yr, there have been about 10 tables related to seat a rising crowd. The occasion stored increasing, with increasingly more tables added yr after yr, till it was dubbed the longest Iftar desk in Egypt.

The ritual was paused for 2 years in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it surely made a robust comeback in 2023, with celebrities, authorities officers and even diplomats becoming a member of the banquet.

The Monday night time gathering noticed the largest turnout thus far, and the slim previous streets and alleys had been packed. Some friends informed CBS Information it was the primary time they’d been to Matareya.

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Folks crowd round Egypt’s longest Iftar desk earlier than breaking their every day quick on the fifteenth day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in Cairo’s Matareya neighborhood, March 25, 2024.CBS Information/Ahmed Shawkat

Bassem Mahmoud, one other organizer, mentioned some 6,000 meals had been ready for the 2023 Iftar. This yr, he mentioned they made 10,000, and so they had been hoping to develop much more in 2025.

Mahmoud mentioned preparations for the Iftar began two months earlier than the dinner, together with shopping for and storing all the pieces from water, juice and decorations, to cleansing and portray the streets after which festooning them with Ramadan decorations.

Throughout Ramadan, tables of free meals are arrange in streets throughout Egypt for anybody to interrupt their quick. These choices are usually meant for these in want, which makes the Matareya Iftar distinctive, although the organizers stress that they’re sharing a meal with friends, and everyone seems to be invited.

With balloons, contemporary paint on the neighborhood partitions and the streets echoing with lights and Ramadan music, the pleasant ambiance drew hundreds of individuals this yr, together with some who did not eat, however simply got here to benefit from the spectacle.

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Folks pack a crowded road within the Matareya neighborhood, in Egypt’s capital metropolis of Cairo, for an annual mega-Iftar dinner on the fifteenth day of Ramadan, March 25, 2024, in Egypt.CBS Information/Ahmed Shawkat

Some residents who selected to not enterprise out into the streets to take part had Iftar diners come to them as a substitute. Locals informed CBS Information that full strangers knocked on their doorways and requested to come back as much as get pleasure from a greater view from their balconies, and so they had been welcomed.

In the course of the holy month, folks usually nice one another with the phrase “Ramadan Kareem,” which is Arabic for “beneficiant Ramadan.” The month is historically a time to give attention to gathering, sharing and generosity, and the Matareya neighborhood confirmed that spirit on the fifteenth day of Ramadan.

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