MORE than 450 people went to York Mosque when it held its first “Big Iftar”.

The event was part of a national initiative to invite people from different faiths and ethnicities to mosques to experience and understand why Muslims fast, and to share in Iftar - or breaking a fast during Ramadan.

Organisers nationally said the aim was to promote neighbourliness and strengthen community relations and sharing, saying Muslims living in Britain were encouraged to reach out, build bridges and work with colleagues and neighbours to share their faith and build on their shared values.

York Iman Abid Salik said local councillors, interfaith groups, senior members of the police, friends and neighbours attended York’s Big Iftar at the mosque in Bull Lane, off Lawrence Street, on Sunday evening.

Local Police Community Support Officer Tom Elliott said he had fasted for two days to experience what it was like.

“It’s been tough not to eat but I certainly feel the difference and, dare I say, the benefit, of fasting,” he said.

Ismail Miah, president of the mosque, said: “We had catered for 250 people but were amazed and humbled by over 450 attendees.

“Despite the greater than expected numbers, we received some very encouraging comments. Special thanks to everyone who helped make this event such a huge success.”

Esme Madill-Parker, a Trustee of Refugee Action Week York and a new visitor to the mosque, thanked organisers for the invitation.

“It was an inclusive and welcoming event.

“Please thank everyone involved in organising it on our behalf.”

The event included presentations on Why Muslims Fast by Imam Abid Salik and on Influential Muslims, by Professor Mohamed Gomati, as well as a review of the situation in Palestine by York Palestine Solidarity Campaign chairman, Stephen Leah.

News of the Big Iftar comes only days after the mosque started collecting items for the city’s food banks to help poorer people in the local community.

A new and bigger £1 million mosque is be built on the site of the existing building in York, following council approval of revised plans in 2012.

Officials at the centre said then that the current mosque had been used for more than 25 years, but was now too small.