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Muslim leaders decline White House Ramadan invitation

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Muslim leaders decline White House Ramadan invitation

The White House organised a toned-down iftar dinner to mark the holy month of Ramadan, following the refusal of some invitees due to dissatisfaction within the Muslim community regarding President Biden’s approach to the Israel-Gaza conflict.

President Joe Biden engaged in discussions with Muslim leaders and later shared a small dinner with senior Muslim officials in his administration, alongside First Lady Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris along with her husband.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre informed reporters that President Biden opted for a meeting with Muslim community leaders instead of a dinner, acknowledging their preference.

Dr. Thaer Ahmad, an emergency room doctor who had recently spent time in Gaza, walked out of the meeting early, citing respect for the suffering endured by many and expressing his inability to continue participating.

Ahmad, the sole Palestinian-American present, highlighted the lack of substantive response from President Biden during the encounter.

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This year’s event contrasts starkly with last year’s Eid reception, where President Biden was cheered by attendees, emphasising, “It’s your house.” Notable figures such as Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, both vocal critics of Biden’s Gaza policy, were among the attendees.

Emgage Action, a Muslim American advocacy group, declined the invitation to the dinner, citing objections to Biden’s unwavering military support for Israel, which they argue has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Many in the Muslim, Arab, and anti-war communities have voiced discontent with the administration’s backing of Israel and its military offensive in Gaza, resulting in significant casualties and exacerbating a humanitarian crisis in the densely populated enclave.

The United States remains a leading provider of foreign aid to Israel and has repeatedly vetoed UN resolutions calling for a ceasefire during the Gaza conflict that erupted following Hamas’ attack on Israel in October. The U.S. abstained from a subsequent resolution in late March.

Hamas’ initial attack on Israel reportedly resulted in 1,200 casualties, according to Israeli sources. In response, Israel’s military operation in Gaza has led to over 32,000 casualties, according to local health authorities, fueling allegations of genocide that Israel denies.

Meanwhile, Muslim and anti-war groups held a protest iftar near the White House, distributing dates and water bottles to break the fast at sunset.

This report was contributed by Kanishka Singh and Nandita Bose in Washington, with editing by Heather Timmons, David Gregorio, and Sonali Paul.

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