CONTINGENCY OPERATING STATION MAREZ, MOSUL, Iraq - Promoting an understanding of Islamic faith and Muslim culture, the Mosul Reconstruction Cell (MRC) hosted a dinner for MRC staff and Mosul city reconstruction leaders to celebrate Ramadan, Sept. 1.

For Muslims across the world, Ramadan is the holiest of all months in the Islamic calendar. According to Muslim belief, Ramadan is the month the Prophet Muhammad received his revelations. During this month, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset.

Each evening of Ramadan, after sunset, Muslim\'s break their fast. Then came the opportunity for U.S. forces to celebrate the breaking of the fast with their Iraqi counterparts, who gave the American attendees a unique cultural experience.

Yaseen Aziz, MRC special advisor, a native of Sulaymania in Iraq's Kurdish region who immigrated to Greenville, S.C., in 1997, said fasting during Ramadan is similar to fasting in Christian and Jewish religions.

Aziz said the celebration dinner was a chance to trade information and help the Iraqis and Americans learn from each other.

"It is essential to understand each other's cultures, how they pray, how they fast. It shows a type of care and love for each other, a key point in building relationships," he said.

Attendees included Iraqi municipality, public works and engineer reconstruction leaders, as well as Brig Gen. Robert Brown, deputy commanding general (support), Multinational Division-North, 25th Infantry Division, and Lt. Col. Fabian Mendoza Jr., 130th Eng. Bde. commander.

MRC officer in charge, Lt. Col. Chad R. Walker, 130th Engineer Brigade, said his team wanted to honor the Iraqi culture and heritage and pay their respects to their Iraqi counterparts.

"Being part of this celebration is very significant," Walker said. "We are bridging the gap between religions, cultures and nations."

The MRC hopes the Ramadan dinner helped facilitate greater awareness and respect between two very different cultures as their partnership in reconstruction continues to improve the quality of life for residents of Mosul and Ninawa province.