First-ever Halal Food Festival hosted by Utah Muslim Civic League celebrates culture, connections

Jul 28, 2023, 7:46 PM | Updated: Jul 29, 2023, 10:30 am

SALT LAKE CITY – Nothing seems to bring people together faster than food.  That’s in part what one of Utah’s religious communities is hoping to accomplish for its first-ever food festival.   

Whether at a farmer’s market or a restaurant, there’s a type of food that’s a bit harder to find here in the Beehive State.   

The Utah Muslim Civic League plans to share those flavors at a festival this weekend.   

Neghat Fazel will cook two dishes from Afghanistan, her home country.   

“We never get the opportunity to tell people about our food,” Fazel said, who moved to Utah in 2002.  

 Utah’s Muslim community is tight-knit and Fazel said she’s cooked plenty of times for large groups within her community, this is the first time people not of her faith will be eating her food. 

“I hope everyone is going to like it,” she said. 

 The festival will have all Halal food products, meaning it has been specially prepared and prayed over.  

Yaser “Sunny” Nasir was the first to open a Halal food restaurant in Utah, in 1998.  

“When we’re going out to eat, we’re always missing something,” said Nasir. 

That something is Halal meat — meat that had all the blood drained from the animal and was prayed over.  

 “The main reason is that we are asking permission from God, that we can go ahead and kill this animal and use it for our nutrition,” Nasir said.  

The unique preparation has made it hard to access Halal food for the approximately 60,000 Muslims throughout the State.  

Nasir and his family visited grocery stores advocating for Halal meat, and he said it’s worked.  

“In the past five or six years Halal meat has been much more widely available here in Salt Lake City,” he said.   

Yet, this is the first time the Muslim community is showcasing Halal food for the general population.  

And while there will be good food, Imam Yussuf Abdi said this festival has a much deeper meaning. 

“We want people to know that as Muslims we share a lot of commonalities with them,” Abdi said. “We eat food, we enjoy and we play.”  

They hope getting a taste of their culture can help bring together Utah’s communities.  

“They see how we look and think we are boring,” said Fazel. “No, we are not, we are fun people.” 

The Halal Food Festival goes from 11 AM to 6 PM on Saturday, July 29th at Rosewood Park, 1434 N 1200 W. 

Click here to get more information.

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First-ever Halal Food Festival hosted by Utah Muslim Civic League celebrates culture, connections