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Two More Nights Left of Free Ramadan Dinner

Aug. 16, 2012 By Pat Dorfman

Chefs Kadir and Mustafa fed over 600 visitors Tuesday night at L/Cpl Thomas P. Noonan Park in Sunnyside, where the Turkish Cultural Center of Queens (TCC) set up a large tent to to celebrate the end of fasting for the month of the Islamic holiday Ramadan. The celebration continues this week, with Thursday and Friday dinner open to the public, beginning at 7:45pm. Muslims from other countries and groups also attended.

TCC’s local celebration is in its eighth year and this is the first year the event has been extended to four nights. Tuesday’s well-received menu was lentil soup, Turkish beef stew over rice, salad and baklava for dessert. A dozen TCC volunteers served the food and the line moved along quickly, running out of food as the last few diners arrived at 8:30.

Muslims are asked not to eat or drink anything during the day and may break their fasts at sundown. They eat again, an early breakfast, around 3:30am. Children, the elderly, pregnant women and the ill are exempt. Among other significance, Ramadan is a time of self-improvement.

“We enjoy very much hosting this event, and sharing food and the good feelings we have. It was great to see some visitors from past years and new people this year,” said TCC Queens VP, Oguzhan Turan. The group does not receive outside funds and exists through the donations of its membership, which numbers over 6,000 in Queens.

Many non-Muslims visitors attended this year, including Sunnyside/Woodsiders Ann Eagan, Luke Adams, Casey Concelmo, Angela Fabregas, Manny Gomez, Nemo Jantzen, Deidre Feerick, park employees, and Sunnyside library staffers. Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer attended and addressed the crowd briefly.

Todd Reynolds, a noted composer who lives close by said, “I didn’t even know this was going on until tonight. I liked the food and the people.”

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I wonder why it is that people try to take such beautiful works of friendship love and sharing to different levels they must not like to live in a peaceful world


@Webley – make no mistake, this is a religious feast, on the last few days of Ramadan. That’s why you can’t eat the food until it’s dark.

@Mark Livermore – I merely stated that the Gülen Movement is controversial, and without a doubt they are. If you’re a woman like me, you would think twice to wholeheartedly embrace a faction that likes to keep their women in the kitchen.

And thank you @Pomme for digging up that New York Times article – I really appreciate it.

Anyway, I have absolutely nothing against people breaking bread together – or even in a religious way. But no religious act should be performed on public property, period. I can assure you it doesn’t feel too good to be on the other side when a priest comes over and blesses the lighting of our local Christmas tree either.


How was the issue with P.S. 150 resolved? I will bet that Van Bramer wanted the church group out of the school. Turkey is hostile toward the Greek Orthodox Church and right now it is bad for the Jewish population.


This is just a dinner to promote unity, harmony and diversity in the society. i personally encourage such organizations to do more for their community. and it is open to everybody.


Deniz did not say that the people organizing the Ramadan dinner were bad people. He expressed concern that _funds_ for the dinner (he believed) were coming from the Gulen Movement, which has been the subject of a great deal of criticism in Turkey. The NY TImes had a feature on it (for details):

Religious processions are different from worship services in schools. Any group can apply for a permit to have a parade or procession, and the viewpoint expressed is not at issue. Police are present to re-direct traffic and provide for public safety. No one would think the city or the police are endorsing a specific religion when they direct traffic around the procession.

Whether NYC schools can be use for religious services (after school hours) is still in dispute in the courts. This case has gone on for 17 years. On Feb. 17, 2012, a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the city’s right to keep worship services out of city schools.
A judge then issued an injunction against enforcing this ruling, at least through June, but that injunction was then revised to apply to only _one_ church. Each side continues to appeal. Stay tuned.

Mark Livermore

Deniz… I have been to Turkey and I got to know the people who organize this event. If they are bad people I honestly don’t know the definition of ”good” and what to call idiots like you. Your own people are trying to represent your culture and tradition by inviting Christians and Jews alike to break bread together and you trash these young people like that ? Deniz…


Do they preach and call people to islam in these dinners? I don’t think so, so then it is not a religious event. It is a non-religious event organized by a religious organization. If you think city property cannot be used for religious events, we have to kick all the Jehovah witness off the sidewalks because they are on sidewalks, subways, parks, bus stops, etc.. all the time.

As for gulen movement, USA doesn’t seem to think it is a bad thing, i saw documentary on 13 just recently, and I saw him on the news last year or so.



Saint Teresa’s has a procession every year in honor of their patron saint that goes through the local streets as parishioners and priests recite the Rosary with police escort. Same thing for the Greek and Romanian churches on 48th avenue during their Easter celebrations.

These are religious services on public property.

You’re wrong. Religious services are permitted.


The distinction is this (you may or may not find it clear enough): a court ruled that city property (notably the public schools) cannot be used for religious _services_, even if they occur after school hours. Religious groups _can_ and do rent public venues, especially schools after school hours, to sponsor sports clubs, Girl Scouts, bands, and things like that. They are permitted because they are NOT religious services, even though a religious groups is the sponsor

I have not been to the Ramadan dinner (I hope to go), but it seems like dinner is being served to diverse people from the community and it is NOT a religious service at all. Perhaps someone who attended can confirm. In that case, it would be permitted.

Deniz, do you know for sure that the dinner is being sponsored by the Gülen movement? I would find that disturbing, for the reasons you mention. Thanks.



We have atheist celebrations in Sunnyside all the time. I walk down the streets and through the parks most days and there is nothing happening.

A Handsome Gentleman

I don’t care if Krissi is an atheist, I’d still buy her presents for every religious holiday


I think this is a cute event. I’m an atheist and don’t mind it so long as public money isn’t being used.


Well I am a Turkish-American, and I don’t like that our public parks are being used for such religious purposes. The source of this money comes from the controversial Gülen Movement, who are a super-religious super-wealthy faction. That’s not to say these people don’t mean well here – but they should kept from muddying up our laws in which there is a clear separation of church/mosque/synagogue and state/government. Unfortunately they have had a long history in Turkey of wanting to do exactly the opposite.



You could suggest scientology is a terrible religion but Tom Cruise and Xenu will show up at your front door and spank you on the rear end with a copy of Dianetics. I wouldn’t wish that upon my worst enemy.


So saying a religion is terrible is now hate? what a bunch of hippies. would you feel better if I said Catholocism is also a terrible religion? or how about Scientology? which one would appease your sensitivities? Did I say all people following Islam should be Strung up and hung? Did I even suggest that any “hate” be expressed? nope..I merely expressed my OWN opinion about what I feel the religion is like…and it is indeed terrible. Until those following it stop cutting off the hands of its thieves trying to feed their families, stoning women for giving a sexy “eye” and stop beheading “infidels” I will still and always say…it is a terrible religion.



Thanks for responding. For the record, I think this Ramadan festival is a good thing for the community and looks like fun.

You are right about politics and who you know. But I suspect it’s also about political ideology as this separation of church and state is often selectively applied.

When the city decided that Christians groups couldn’t rent the schools for their functions, they perhaps should have thought out how this rule would extend to other city-owned properties and different religions. If they are going to set a new rule, it should be fair and extend across the board, not just enforced according to the whims of local officials.

Anyway, I was just wondering, what is the TCC’s official stance on same-sex marriage? Should I be boycotting them like Chick-fil-A?


I don’t know why they were denied .. I hope that can be settled because I have attended church programs and other programs from other religions..I do know that schools are used as well like Grace fellowship church uses ps 150.. I think it may be a licensing issues because the Turkish cultural center had some issues in previous years with leasing as well and had the tents set up at another park.. So it’s all politics involved and knowing the right people.. If a christian organization or any other group had an event like this I would love to check it out I mean why not? What are you going to loose? You’ll just become more knowledgeable and accepting of others.. It just upsets me seeing comments that spread hatred.. I was born and raised in sunnyside and i love the diversity of my community and people!!



I agree with you that Ruben is an ignorant jerk. I personally have no problem with this Ramadan celebration and wish all the best to those observing it.

All I want to know is why a Christian group is denied access to a city facility, (a facility that they paid to use btw) on grounds of separation of church and state, yet this Islamic religious event is an acceptable use of public property.

Also, how much is this group paying to use to park, if anything.


First off Ruben you are definetly brainwashed against Muslims.. Ive been reading a lot of your comments and you spit out hatred towards Islam and Muslims.. What kind of comment is that? True hatred.. There are good and bad people from all faiths but always remember to” never judge a faith by it’s people but by it’s scripture ” Islam is a religion of peace.. Maybe you should lay off watching bill o reily an media propaganda and actually read about Islam and the Quran.. And for
Those who have commented saying that nothing is
Done on Christmas? What planet do you live on? We have days off for
Hanukkah and christmas lights all around the holiday season, santa at malls.. and the fact that muslims
Are putting up a tent and feeding people is bothering you? What is the world coming to? So SAD!!


A local Christian congregation that rented a public school auditorium on the weekend was kicked out because it was decided city property can’t be used for religious purposes.


Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t Noonan park also city property?

So why is it okay for a Muslim group to use it to celebrate Ramadan?

Why the double standard?

Also, can JVB’s office tell us how much this group is paying to use this public space?


Casey. Ever been in Queens during December.
Thousands of candles are being lit by public officials for Hannauka(?) .
There are Christmas vigils where people march down the street everywhere. There are also Christmas trees being lit everywhere.
Think about it?


To Dunk

Christmas? You should know by now that Islam is the only religion that can use public space.


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