A group of concerned American Muslims are organizing the first-ever Grassroots Iftar this Saturday, June 27th in response to the White House Iftar, after last year’s event saw the Israeli Ambassador to the US as a guest during Israel’s bombardment of Gaza last summer. In last year’s speech, President Obama made it a point to emphasize that “Israel has a right to defend itself”. Over the past year, this incident and other troubling policies of the administration have prompted a vigorous debate within the American Muslim community as to the goals and effectiveness of engagement.
In response, the Grassroots Iftar, to be held at 20 F Street NW Conference Center in Washington, will give community members an opportunity to voice their opinions on the White House Iftar, as well as top domestic and international issues of concern to the American Muslim community. Some potential topics that have troubled community members include: the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program directed only at Muslims, when the vast majority of domestic extremist violence has come from right-wing groups; mass NSA surveillance; discriminatory law enforcement tactics and police brutality disproportionately affecting Muslims and people of color; foreign military intervention; and the administration’s staunch support for the State of Israel, which stands in violation of international law with its military occupation of Palestine, a cause American Muslims, the United Nations and all people of conscience stand united against.
The Grassroots Iftar will also give pre-selected community members the opportunity to present proposals for new projects that will help move the community forward based on current needs on the ground.
Although last night’s White House Iftar proceeded mostly without incident, it remains to be seen when the administration may use it again for political expediency while undermining the American Muslim community.
This first annual event is closed to the media but press members are encouraged to speak with participants about their experience, as they leave.