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Bringing Latinos and Muslims together with ‘Taco Trucks at Every Mosque’

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By bringing taco trucks to mosques during Ramadan, two Orange County friends hope to build connections between Latinos and Muslims.

No matter where you come from, there's one indisputable thing that brings people together... good food. 

So, a couple of friends in Orange County thought they could use that concept to bridge the gap between their two communities.  They put together a plan to bring the local Latinos and Muslims together. They would make arrangement to bring a taco truck to mosques during the month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from sunup to sundown. 

They hope that by breaking their fast together, the two groups can build connections over tacos. 
 
The first event kicked off at the Islamic Center of Santa Ana which is home to a large Cham, Muslim community. 

 "This is about getting to know our Muslim and Latino neighbors so that we can establish a rapport," said Rida Hamida, one of the event organizers. 

Hamida and co-organizer, Benjamin Vasquez see commonalities between their two communities, both in cultural traditions and in today's political climate.

The idea came together when Hamida asked Vasquez what restaurant he would take others to share his culture. Vasquez quickly answered, "if we're going to go eat, let's eat some tacos."

Taco Truck at Every Mosque organizers, Benjamin Vasquez and Rida Hamida.
KPCC
Taco Truck at Every Mosque organizers, Benjamin Vasquez and Rida Hamida.

 "There is a lot of hate coming towards these two groups," said Vasquez. "And even between each other, there's prejudice. They get to see us interacting, or they get to interact, and we start breaking those down."

The event also focused on celebrating their differences. "We're working together to really introduce new segments of the Muslims - Latino population to one another so we can build community," added Hamida. 

"People kind of lower their guards when they eat together, when they break bread," said Vasquez who joined in on the fast in solidarity. "That they allow us in and share this very holy moment of breaking fast– how beautiful for us to be let in and enjoy tacos. It's just a kismet kind of moment."

Deen Saleh and Benjamin Vasquez
KPCC
Deen Saleh and Benjamin Vasquez

Sean Tu, President of the Islamic Center of Santa Ana was hopeful the event will foster collaboration that will benefit Santa Ana as a whole. "We can collaborate with the Latino community to make this place beautiful."

19-year-old college student Sophy El also saw potential in bringing the two communities together. Many of her friends are Latino and she said she's always happy to explain her faith to her friends when they have questions. She wants to invite others to get to acquainted with her family's traditions. "Just get a glimpse of what type of culture as well as religion we are," said El. "And who we are as an Islamic Asian community." 

Sophy El and Halimas Sen.
KPCC
Sophy El and Halimas Sen.

Ivan Enriquez also joined in the fast. He thought that that bringing people together is particularly key when the nation is in turmoil. "It's very hard to unify the community if we have our own differences. But when we try to attend each other's events, try to understand each other's holidays, it think it's pretty important. 

Taco Trucks at Every Mosque launch event
KPCC
Taco Trucks at Every Mosque launch event

"The best way to build community is through our empty stomachs," said Hamida. 

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