Trump Iftar Meal Snubbed Several Key Groups

Barack Obama hosts an Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan in the East Room of the White House, June 22, 2015

Mostly diplomats from Muslim countries were invited to attend

United States President Donald J. Trump hosted his first iftar party in the White House on June 7. He wished Muslims all over the world "Ramadan Mubarak." The phrase translates into English as "blessed holiday." This effort during Ramadan, arguably Islam’s holiest month, has surprised many Muslims. The president skipped the event in 2017.

President Trump delivered a message on unity at the iftar dinner. Iftar marks the culmination of a fast which lasts the whole day only ending in the evening. He verbally recognized both American Muslim communities and also non-American ones. The list of audience members included ambassadors of multiple Muslim countries and Cabinet members. Officials from predominantly Muslim countries like United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Kuwait were also present. For the audience, the President Trump of this time was a vast change from his earlier campaign as a fire and brimstone orator who declared a complete and utter shutdown of Muslims from entering the United States of America. Trump even compared the fleeing Syrian refugees to snakes and said Islam hates Americans during a media interview.

Critics have come down heavily on the event. They point out the event hosted a few diplomats who do not represent American Muslims. Such a practice, critics say, will only strengthen the wrong policies adopted by the Trump administration. The latter attacks Muslims holding U.S. citizenship and mollycoddles the dictators of the Muslim world. These Muslim rulers are corrupt and in no way represent American Muslims. Ironically, President Trump by these actions has fallen into the trap laid down by jihadists. Islamic fundamentalists want to show the U.S. as a Muslim hating place, and the current president has handed them this abnormal perception on a platter.

The Trump administration has pointedly not invited significant Muslim advocacy and Islamic cultural organizations for the 2018 event. Earlier administrations had invited them. One of them was Islamic Society of North America, regarded as the United States' largest and oldest Muslim organization. Another civil rights group, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which has chapters scattered all over the U.S., told the media its representatives have earlier attended many iftars when hosted by the White House. It has also been to events hosted by the Pentagon and the State Department. In 2018, however, CAIR was not invited. It is thus difficult to fathom how the Trump iftar event will act as an outreach to U.S. Muslims.

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