By Brian Collett
Mexican taco truck operators in California are using their business power to promote social harmony, foster understanding between cultures and give a voice to the Latino and Muslim minorities.
As part of a campaign called Taco Trucks at Every Mosque, they are holding events at which Muslim services are conducted, educational talks are given, and Mexican food prepared according to halal rules is served free to those who attend.
Although the gatherings were aimed initially at Latino and Muslim communities, people of all religious and ethnic backgrounds are welcomed.
History teacher Ben Vazquez, one of the organizers of the events, which began in Orange County and are run like tours, said: “There are layers of sharing beyond just food.
“It’s our job as activists to nurture understanding and build relationships. And we are developing deeper relationships as we build this.”
Another of the organizers, Todd Gallinger, a Muslim convert, said at one of the meetings: “There’s a lot shared history. The message for tonight is – let’s come together and get to work.
“One of the highlights for me was an Asian Muslim sister from Cambodia who spoke about her personal experience [on] what it was like to be Asian, American and Muslim. Hopefully, it’s the start of a movement for a different change.”
Sonia Ahmed, originally from Guatemala, said the event she attended helped people to become more aware of the Muslim faith and debunked some common myths. She said: “Sometimes ignorance can hurt people. The more you know about something, the better you can communicate.”
Muslim activist Rida Hamida emphasized: “Latinos and Muslims are fighting hate in the most delicious way, one halal taco at a time. Take that, Trump. We are united by taco trucks at every mosque.”
The first meeting attracted more than 400 people. The first seven events were estimated to have served nearly 29,000 tacos to 7,300 people.
The next taco tour is due in May.