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Muslims, Allies Hold White House Iftar Protest As Biden Hosts Scaled-Down Fast-Breaking Event

03.04.2024 05:57

'The White House couldn't host the Muslim community, because we refuse to go,' says senior official with Council on American Islamic Relations.

US President Joe Biden had expected to host Muslim community members for an annual iftar celebration at the White House Tuesday evening.

Instead, dozens of Muslim American community members and their allies braved rain, wind and frigid temperatures to stage a breaking of the fast protest outside the executive mansion, demanding the president call for an immediate permanent cease-fire to halt the bloodshed in the besieged Gaza Strip.

"The White House couldn't host the Muslim community, because we refuse to go. And I think in a show of solidarity, we wanted to turn out in front of the White House when they wanted to have their iftar and remind them what we want," Robert McCaw, the government affairs director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) advocacy group, told Anadolu.

"And they know what we want. We want a cease-fire now, a permanent cease-fire. We want an end to all US weapons transfers to Israel, and we want the free flow of humanitarian aid," he added.

The White House had earlier acknowledged that Tuesday's official meeting would be far-removed from the large Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr celebrations of past years, saying Muslim community leaders requested a "working group" sit-down with the president and senior officials "to discuss issues of importance to the community" instead.

Spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said the president would hold a "breaking of the fast prayer" and iftar for Muslim officials in his administration after the meeting with the Muslim leaders concluded.

It is unclear how many, if any, community leaders ultimately chose to participate in the "working group" meeting, which was not included in the public schedule circulated with White House reporters.

Speaking to Anadolu outside the executive mansion, Mohamad Habbeh, the community outreach director for the American Muslims for Palestine non-profit, said that fewer than 15 Muslim community leaders received invitations to the official White House event, and one who did go used the opportunity to hand over a protest letter against Biden.

"It is beyond embarrassing that the president would rather do cheap tricks like this than answer our community's call and give the Palestinian lives the respect they deserve," he said.

Israel has waged a deadly military offensive on Gaza since an Oct. 7 cross-border attack led by the Palestinian group Hamas that killed around 1,200 people.

At least 32,916 Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza and over 75,000 injured amid mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

Israel has also imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip, leaving its population, particularly residents of northern Gaza, on the verge of starvation. That has dramatically heightened the need for international assistance in the coastal enclave amid stringent Israeli restrictions on its entry. -

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