President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy together with Ukrainian Muslim soldiers, leaders of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, and representatives of the Muslim clergy, took part in the Iftar, a dinner held during the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims.
The event took place on the territory of the Crimean Tatar cultural center Birlik in Kyiv region.
Together with the Head of State, Iftar was shared by Ukrainian Muslim servicemen, who are currently fighting in the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine: Crimean Tatars, Azerbaijanis, Volga Tatars, and Ukrainians who have converted to Islam. In particular, these are chaplains, paramedics, volunteers and others.
Head of the Office of the President Andriy Yermak, his deputies Andriy Sybiha and Roman Mashovets, Permanent Representative of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea Tamila Tasheva, Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People Refat Chubarov and members of the Mejlis, Chairman of the State Property Fund of Ukraine Rustem Umerov, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Emine Dzhaparova, Deputy Director General of the Ukrainian Institute Alim Aliev, singer Jamala, representatives of the public and diplomatic institutions also took part in the Iftar.
"Today, we are starting such a tradition for Ukraine – Iftar – precisely at the official level. Together with our soldiers, with our heroes, with the present Muslim soldiers, together with the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, together with representatives of the entire Muslim community of Ukraine. And with this, we manifest that Ukraine values every person, values every community. Diversity backed by respect is part of the character of an independent Ukraine. And may our character always be strengthened and spurs the people on to good deeds. Ukraine is grateful to the Muslims of our country and to everyone in the Muslim community of the world who, like us, want peace and protection from evil," the Head of State said, addressing the audience.
As the President said, Ukraine will always remember the heroism of those who fight for freedom and security on all Ukrainian lands.
The President reminded that Russia's attempt to enslave Ukraine and other peoples of civilized Europe began precisely with the occupation of the Ukrainian Crimea, with repressions on the peninsula against the Crimean Muslims.
"Unfortunately, evil, humiliation, repression, murders, and war reign on the land of Crimea now, under the Russian tricolor... But where the path of evil began, that is where victory awaits us – victory over this evil. The de-occupation of Crimea has no alternative, not only for Ukraine but also for the whole world," Zelenskyy said.
According to him, while respecting the territorial integrity of all states of the world, Ukraine expects respect for its territorial integrity as well – from Polissia to the coast of the Black and Azov seas – because each of our people deserves to live freely.
"It is what we are fighting for, it is what our people are praying for. We will return to Crimea. And then peace will return to the world because the aggressor will lose. Everything else can only inflame Russia's thirst for war. Let the aggressor feel that no one is allowed to ruin the lives of nations and rob nations, no one is allowed to spread evil and ruins in the world. The victory of our state, of each of us, the victory of Ukraine will mean the victory of life – the life of all of us, all Ukrainians, of absolutely all denominations, of different origins, but with one dream and one faith – faith in goodness," the President said.
Those present observed a moment of silence in memory of the soldiers who gave their lives defending the Ukrainian state and citizens.
"May the holy Ramadan, despite the sadness and pain of war, be bright for you! May Iftar bring consolation to everyone in the world, in the Muslim community, no matter where you happen to be now. The big world Muslim community, every nation, every state can always rely on Ukraine because we have respect and solidarity," Zelenskyy said.
In his address, the leader of the Crimean Tatar people, Mustafa Jemilev, said that the most bloody and large-scale battles since the Second World War are currently ongoing in our country, and Ukrainian citizens of all faiths, including Muslims, - each to the best of their abilities – are fighting for freedom, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine and the liberation of the occupied territories from the aggressor.
"Under these circumstances, our Supreme Commander-in-Chief, the Head of State finds the time and opportunity to organize this Iftar and thereby expresses his respect for Islam and all citizens who practice Islam in our country," Jemilev said.
He also reminded that it was by the decision of President Zelenskyy that Muslim holidays became national, for which not only Muslims of Ukraine but also everyone in the Islamic world are grateful.
"I would like to express my gratitude to all countries, in particular some Islamic states, which in these difficult times for our country have provided and continue to assist in repelling armed aggression with finances and weapons, with hospitably receiving our citizens who were forced to leave Ukraine seeking to save their children from Russian bombings. We will never forget this," Jemilev said.
The leader of the Crimean Tatar people said that this war cannot be ended until the last meter of the territory of Ukraine, including Crimea, is liberated.
"I hope the Islamic countries will overcome their fear of the aggressor country, whose fangs have already been thoroughly knocked out by the Ukrainian army, and take a more active position in Ukraine's opposition to the aggressor. The more active Muslims are on the side of goodness and justice, the greater will be the authority of Islam in the world," he said.
The President presented state awards to Ukrainian troops. Zelenskyy awarded the defenders with the Orders For Courage of the III degree and Orders For Merit of the III degree, and medals For Military Service to Ukraine and Defender of the Motherland.
In response, the troops presented chevrons and a book to the Head of State.
The head of the Religious Administration of the Muslims of Crimea, Aider Rustemov, said the Iftar prayer, which symbolizes the end of the fast of this day.
As part of the event, a photo exhibition was organized about the events in Crimea, which reveals the issues of human rights violations on the peninsula, political persecution of the Crimean Tatars and their families, and tells about the Muslim soldiers who are currently fighting at the front.