The White House has hosted an iftar dinner, recognizing the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims, since President Bill Clinton. But this year, after officials announced President Donald Trump would host a similar event, many Muslim groups are saying they are not going attend.
Muslims fast for the entire month of celebration, with the iftar meal coming about after sunset every day. The White House iftar meal doesn’t come on a specific day of Ramadan, although the scheduled iftar on Wednesday comes a week and one day before Eid al-Fitr, the official end to Ramadan.
But with the announcement that Trump would be hosting an iftar dinner at the White House, many Muslims have become critical of the president, due to his open hostility to the faith in the past, not to mention his targeted and bigoted Muslim immigration ban early in his tenure.
“We do not need an iftar dinner,” Georgetown University’s Muslim Chaplain Imam Yahya Hendi said. “Rather, we need to get the respect we highly deserve. Do not feed us and stab us.”
Other groups who have attended the White House iftar in the past have also said they won’t go now, with or without an invitation from Trump.
According to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, approximately 30 to 40 individuals will be joining Trump for the dinner, although specifics on who these individuals are have not been disclosed. Even so, that is indeed surprising, “given the administration’s Islamophobic and white supremacist positions and policies,” Hooper also said.
It’s not that difficult to surmise why Muslims in America would oppose attending a dinner with the president. Members of his administration willingly speaking to known anti-Muslim hate groups, and the president’s own tweets promote dubious and malicious (and importantly, false) claims against Muslims. Attending an iftar with Trump sounds far from appealing.
If Trump wants to be an ambassador of goodwill with the Muslim community in America and abroad, he needs to start by treating its members with the respect they deserve. That means letting go and denouncing bigotry whenever he sees it — and apologizing for the statements and misdeeds he’s committed against Muslims in the past.