"There are things going on, and we are aware of those things," says Kazan, obliquely referencing the anti-Islamic rage that's swelled around a proposed Islamic center near the World Trade Center site, inspiring a New Yorker to stab his Muslim cab driver yesterday and a Florida pastor to call for Koran burning.
"But we're trying to promote understanding and have neighborly relations," Kazan says. Participants in the event, he adds, "usually don't have the chance to sit around the table with Muslims and eat together."
The Dallas Islamic Center began sponsoring interfaith dinners during Ramadan last year; tonight's event is the 10th in the series and the first held in partnership with a Jewish congregation.
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Kazan estimates as many as 90 percent of participants have never before attended an Iftar dinner, the traditional fast-breaking meal that occurs after sunset.
The Islamic Center hosted a dinner last week at Unity Church, where attendance far surpassed organizers' expectations.
"We were expecting 20 people from each organization," Kazan says. "We had about 130. Some people had to eat in the hallway."
Tonight's menu includes "Mediterranean-type" beef and rice. Dinner's served at 7:30 p.m.