Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

The White House’s invitation to observe Ramadan is going to be opposed by Muslim organizations.

By knl9j Mar21,2024
News

Outraged by President Joe Biden’s support for Israel, Muslim religious leaders in the United States have announced that they will not attend ceremonies held at the White House that overlap with the holy month of Ramadan and the Eid festival.

They are asking that the administration of President Biden make their demands known in order to secure an immediate cease-fire in Gaza. Patsy Widakuswara, a correspondent for Voice of America, explains that this is not the first time that the indignation of the Muslim community in the United States has overshadowed the celebrations of Ramadan that are taking place at the White House.

In Rafah, where over a million Gazans are seeking shelter as a result of Israel’s military campaign, worship during the month of Ramadan continues despite the rubble that surrounding the city. At the beginning of this month, Muslims from the United States of America gathered in front of the White House in Washington. It is said that the suffering that is occurring in Gaza is a burden for believers.

Ever since he took office, Vice President Joe Biden has maintained a long-standing tradition of meeting with religious leaders from the Muslim community. This meeting has been going on for decades. Dinners known as Iftar have been hosted by both Republican and Democratic presidents during the month of Ramadan, and receptions have been organized during the Eid holiday. The beginning of this custom can be traced back to the regime of President Bill Clinton.

On the other hand, Muslim Americans who have previously attended dinners hosted by the White House have stated that they will not accept the invites this year.

“The decision was made because the administration did not respond to the demands of the Muslim community for an immediate and permanent ceasefire,” the statement read. The reluctance to stop the supply of weapons to Israel, which are being used in a genocide against our Palestinian brothers and sisters in Gaza, is another reason why this is happening, according to Robert McCaw, who is the Director of the Department of Governmental Affairs at the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

During the month of Ramadan, the White House spokeswoman informed VOA that there had been no announcements made regarding any celebrations.

“It is our understanding that a number of communities are going through a difficult period right now. According to a spokeswoman for the White House named Karine Jean-Pierre, “We welcome the fact that senior White House officials have held meetings with members of various communities, whether they are Arab, Muslim, or Palestinian, to talk about their perspectives and to express their concerns.”

There have been other instances in which pro-Palestinian demonstrators have disrupted rallies that President Biden has been holding in favor of the Palestinian people.

However, this is not the first time that the ritual during the month of Ramadan that takes place in the White House has been the subject of controversy. During the year 2021, a number of American Muslims declined President Biden’s invitation to participate in a virtual Eid celebration. As a result, this occurred at the same time that the violence in Gaza escalated, resulting in the deaths of over 260 Palestinians.

In 2018, President Donald Trump invited ambassadors from nations with a largely Muslim population. However, he did not invite any American groups whose members had denounced his rhetoric and policies, which they considered were anti-Muslim. A significant number of them have reported that their level of rage has significantly increased. To ensure that Mr. Biden does not prevail in his bid for a second term, some people are even actively campaigning against him.

“I want to make sure that he knows that when he loses, it is because of the votes of Arab and Muslim Americans,” says Samraa Luqman, a Democrat who is associated with the “Leave Biden” campaign. “I want to make sure that he knows that.”

Following the attack carried out by Hamas on October 7, the White House has stated that it has been actively interacting with Arab and Muslim Americans ever since. However, a few of the communities’ members have decided against attending the sessions.

At the same time that they continue to demand that the government work toward establishing an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, American Muslims who are angry by President Joe Biden’s support of Israel have announced that they will not participate in the celebrations of Ramadan and Eid that will take place at the White House this year.

Robert McCaw, director of the Government Affairs Department of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), stated that it is “widely understood” that American Muslim community leaders and groups will deny an invitation in the event that it is sent to them.

“This decision is due to the administration’s failure to address Muslim community demands for an immediate and permanent cease-fire,” McCaw told the news organization VOA. “And its refusal to stop supplying manufactured weapons to Israel, which are being used in a genocide against our Palestinian brothers and sisters in Gaza.”

In response to allegations in the media that the administration is contemplating reducing the number of Ramadan events that will take place at the White House, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated that there has been no announcement made regarding any celebrations relating to the holy month.

“We understand that it is a painful time for a number of communities,” she reported to the Voice of America (VOA) at her news briefing on Monday. Members of the Arab, Muslim, and Palestinian communities have been invited to meet with senior officials from the White House “to talk about their views, to voice their concerns, and we welcome that,” she added.

The suffering of the Palestinian people “will be front of mind for many” Muslims throughout the month of Ramadan, according to a statement issued by President Joe Biden to mark the beginning of the month. “It is front of mind for me.”

After taking office, Vice President Joe Biden has continued the tradition of hosting Muslim community leaders at the White House, which began with President Bill Clinton in 1996 and has been going on for decades. A celebration for Eid al Fitr, which marks the completion of fasting after the month of Ramadan, has been hosted by both Republican and Democratic presidents. Iftar dinners have also been hosted during the month of Ramadan.

However, this year, the White House would probably want to avoid scenarios in which Vice President Biden is heckled and shouted at by pro-Palestinian protesters. This is in addition to the possibility of facing the embarrassment of a major boycott. Quite a few of them have caused disruptions at his campaign events conducted all around the country.

Nowruz, the Persian New Year, is being affected by the outrage that has been caused by Gaza. Nowruz is celebrated by diaspora groups of different ethnicities and religious affiliations from countries other than Iran, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan.

This year, Nowruz corresponds to the month of Ramadan. In addition, this coming weekend, the White House will be having a “Nowruz Open House tour” rather than inviting hundreds of people to a reception, as the administration has done in the past.

“I’m not sure if the president personally would participate,” said Jawaid Kotwal, a board member of the Afghan American Foundation. “I’m not sure. It’s a whole different situation. One that is watered down and degraded in comparison to the regular Nowruz parties that we enjoyed in the White House.

Kotwal stated to the Voice of America that he personally denied the invitation; nonetheless, his organization will “look for any avenue to continue to have engagement with any occupant of the White House.” Requests for additional information regarding the strategy for Nowruz or Ramadan have not been met with a response from the White House.

The message that Vice President Biden issued in honor of Nowruz stated that the war had “inflicted terrible suffering on the Palestinian people,” and he pledged to “continue to lead international efforts to get more humanitarian assistance to them.”

The White House has been plagued with scandal throughout the month of Ramadan on multiple occasions, including this year. President Donald Trump, who campaigned on the idea of preventing Muslims from entering the United States and who enacted multiple executive orders barring immigration from countries with a majority Muslim population, did not organize a Ramadan ceremony during his first year in office.

During the years 2018 and 2019, President Trump hosted iftar parties at the White House for ambassadors from countries with a primarily Muslim population. However, American Muslim organizations and congressmen were not invited to attend. American Muslim organizations stated at the time that they would have declined the invitation if they had been extended one.

During the month of May 2021, as tensions between Israel and Hamas in Gaza increased, a number of American Muslims chose to abstain from participating in Biden‘s virtual Eid celebrations. According to the United Nations, during that round of violence, there were additional than 260 Palestinians who lost their lives.

This death toll is a small fraction of the more than 31,000 Palestinians who have been killed since Israel began its military assault in response to the attacks carried out by Hamas on October 7. These attacks resulted in the deaths of at least 1,200 Israelis and the hostage-taking of more than 240 persons. The degree of rage that is currently being experienced by American Muslims, Arabs, and large portions of Biden’s Democratic base is likewise significantly more than it was previously.

Tariq Habash, a Palestinian American and former policy adviser at the Department of Education who left in protest in January, stated that everyone in the community, even those who work in the administration, would feel as though they were “gaslit” by a Ramadan event that took place in the White House this year.

“You can’t in one hand try and show solidarity and understanding and then in the other hand supply an unrestricted amount of weapons and military funding to an extremist government that is intent on the indiscriminate bombing and killing of civilians,” Habash told the news organization VOA.

Following the attack carried out by Hamas on October 7, the White House has stated that it has been actively engaging with Arab and Muslim Americans. There are members in the community who have declined to meet with authorities from the administration.

Anita Powell, Sayed Aziz Rahman, Begum Ersoz, and Farhad Pouladi were among the individuals who contributed to this story.

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