President Donald Trump became the host to some Muslims as he hosted his first iftar; the sundown meal that breaks fasts during the holy month of Ramadan.
However, to some American Muslims, it’s also time to break out the horror-movie memes.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said “30 to 40” people had been invited to the iftar.
In years past, White House iftars have invited not only diplomats but dozens of American Muslims from civil society, including corporate executives, scholars, activists and athletes.
But many American Muslims say they are reluctant to break bread with Trump, citing the President’s rhetoric and actions toward Muslims and other religious and racial minorities.
“We do not need an iftar dinner,” said Imam Yahya Hendi, the Muslim chaplain at Georgetown University. “Rather, we need to get the respect we highly deserve. Do not feed us and stab us.”
Hendi attended a White House iftar in 2009, when President Barack Obama was in office. He said he was not invited this year. Like many prominent Muslims who have attended previous White House iftars, Hendi said he would not attend if invited this year.
Many American Muslims said they suspect Trump’s iftar is aimed at placating the country’s allies overseas, rather than making genuine connections with their community, with whom the president has had a troubled relationship.
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“I was not invited to the White House iftar, but I would not attend if I were,” said Dalia Mogahed, director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.
“Attending this event, especially during the holy month, a time of introspection and spiritual growth, would be inappropriate in my view as it would appear to normalize this administration’s behavior.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations plans to hold “NOT Trump’s Iftar” event outside the White House as the main event is taking place inside.
A White House spokesperson declined to respond to a request for comment about the criticism.