Three Members Of Congress Brought This Special Ramadan Celebration To The U.S. Capitol For The First Time In History
This is the first iftar hosted by members of Congress.
May 21, 2019 at 8:23 pm
Three Muslim members of Congress hosted a feast at the capital to honor Ramadan.
The feast, known as an iftar, marks the period on each day of Ramadan when observers can break daily their fast. It typically occurs at sundown.
The Monday dinner was hosted by Reps. André Carson, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, reports The Hill. The iftar was co-sponsored by Muslim Advocates, a civil rights organization.
Several politicians were in attendance including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Senate Minority Whip Dick Durban. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was invited but she was not present due to professional obligations.
Omar considers the iftar a celebration of the contributions of Muslim Americans.
"It was a reminder that we are a nation founded on religious liberty, where people seeking opportunity and a better life can find it, regardless of their faith,” she said in a statement. “And it demonstrated that Muslim-Americans are a vital part of the American fabric, worthy of representation at our highest levels of government."
Tlaib explained that the event was an affront to the Islamophobia permeating American society, according to HuffPost.
“It’s important to take a moment to recognize how historic this iftar is,” Tlaib said in a statement. “This event lifts an entire community that has felt unseen for far too long. We have been unjustly targeted to ignite fear and promote an agenda of hate. Tonight, we recommit to being rooted in justice, inclusivity, and a sense of belonging.”
This marks the first time an iftar has been hosted by the legislative body. The event is more poignant since Omar and Tlaib are the first Muslim women to be elected to Congress. The White House began hosting iftars in during the Clinton administration. They continued uninterrupted until Donald Trump cancelled the event altogether in 2017. He continued the tradition in 2018 and 2019, but the events were mostly attended by foreign dignitaries. Omar and Carson claim they were not invited to the event and Tlaib hasn’t addressed the matter.
Executive Director of Muslim Advocates Farhana Khera believes Trump has an ulterior motive.
“This president, unfortunately, his track record is to try to essentially cozy up to foreign Muslim leaders that he thinks are going to do his bidding in surface interest and, on the flip side, just demonize and marginalize the American Muslim community,” she said.
In contrast, Khera believes the congressional iftar was a show of solidarity. About 150 people attended and most of them were American Muslims. Only 30-40 people attended the Trump event.
“This is particularly meaningful now given the increasing public role that Muslims are having in civic life,” Khera said. “To have this opportunity to have members of Congress recognize our community, and to say that they see us and they support us, is just absolutely crucial, especially in the holiest month on the calendar for Muslims.”