Ramadan Controversy – Avoiding The White House (and State Department) Iftaars

By Aaron Vlek

Well, the internet is on fire today about the White House Iftar and why Muslims are or are not going.  Boycotters find it unconscionable to sit down to dinner with people and an administration they feel to be, among other things, guilty of numerous crimes against humanity, lying, perpetuating a foreign policy that endangers not only Muslims but all Americans and peoples of the world and unquestionably supporting Israel and its apartheid state and all that that entails.

Goers talk about their pride at being asked. They insist it will provide an opportunity to ask the “really tough questions” and show the administration what reasonable and rational people Muslims are.

But I don’t see it that way, Goers. I see it as an unrepentant opportunity to sit at the Big Table and hobnob and schmooze with power brokers who can grease the wheels for that next book contract, that amazing new job, that upward swing on the ladder of success in any number of fields and an endorsement of the one’s solid place in the Who’s Who of celebrity Muslimness.

Those really tough questions you’re going to make sure get asked? They won’t get asked except for maybe at your own table. But then, they don’t need to be. These questions have already been answered daily and ad nauseum by the continuation and extension of policies designed to undermine and further destabilize the Muslim world and preclude any possible autonomous self-determination in the region.

What else is there to ask?

That surveillance thing against Muslims in mosques? Well not to worry, because now all Americans are in that boat with you and this President you are so hot to sit down with over bad entrees and limp toasts has already defended broad surveillance, wire taping and email monitoring numerous times in front of the microphone.

What else is there to ask?

This White House is known for its great messages that are completely void of any meaning or intent to fulfill. Please, if you go and Mr. Obama stands up and delivers a well-crafted and rehearsed feel-good line directed towards Muslims, don’t fall for it. Just admit why you are really there. It will be a really stellar networking opportunity and will allow you the get out of guilt free card that most Americans use. The one that says, well, things are bad, but at least I’m doing okay and my presence here will make a difference. In my own bottom line and that of my ego. Is that what the White House Iftar is supposed to do? Provide opportunities for public pride?

Because all the Goers seem to be sharing  with great pride their invitation to the Iftar.

Happy Ramadan.

Aaron Vlek converted to Islam in 1975. After wandering a circuitous and solitary path, she ended up where she began and has authored two novels and a work of nonfiction essays on various topics of Islamic interest.

For an different viewpoint on the White House (and State Department) Iftaars, click here to read what News & Politics blogger Aziz Poonawalla has to say, arguing how attending these Iftaars have benefited the community as as whole.

This piece is part of our ongoing series on Ramadan, featuring reflections, stories, and articles from Muslims and non-Muslims on their Ramadan experiences. Keep checking Altmuslim for new pieces throughout Ramadan.

  • abdulrahman

    Brown nosing Muslims. As Malcolm X would say : House Negroes.

  • crescent5

    thank you for writing this article. These community iftars and interfaith events are a joke. The non-Muslims go and use it as their opportunity to talk about how inclusive they are and how much they don’t hate Muslims (as if this is some achievement). Those who are liberal do it because they feel sorry that Muslims are targeted- but they only like Muslims when Muslims are victims so that they can help them. When liberal rant against conservative Christians- remember they think the same thing about practicing Muslims (they’re just hoping that they’ll come around and be like the cool “activist” Muslims. Why some Muslims are content with being one of the “Muslim friends” that someone can reference in a conversation is a mystery to me. Go talk to your REAL non Muslim friends and have a REAL conversation.

    • Noah Smith

      Liberals only rant against conservative Christians (and by your def practicing muslims) when they want to impose their religious values on others.

      • crescent5

        Vocalizing a stance based on one’s religious convictions isn’t imposing religious values on others. And if it is, I fail to see how it’s any different than advocates of social liberalism imposing their norms on other people.

        • Noah Smith

          Right, like I’m stupid enough to think that opinions is the same as action. I’m talking about theists using political clout to enact legislation which promotes theological values. I’m surprised anybody would interpret my comments otherwise

  • Borith

    I remember after 911, every Muslims were out trying to engage the community. But the problem was, there were very few invitations because collective guilt was heaped on the Muslims by other communities. Now, more than a decade after 911, Muslim complacency is coming back again – “No brother we don’t need to engage with the non-Muslims, what good has it done for us.”, “No brother we will not attend, the non-Muslims hear us speak, but they never listen us.” This the problem with the Muslims, when the opportunity presents itself, you guys go into a long debate about its Islamic merits, when there is no opportunity, you guys are complaining about the lack of avenues for Muslims to let their voices be heard. What a pathetic community.

    • sherry

      With the exception of you describing a whole community with one word “pathetic”, I would have to agree that more Muslims should go back to their real Islam and show more trust and love towards others. So what that you sit next to a corrupt politician next to you? Maybe you are able, if you have the purest of hearts and a true love for your brothers (Muslims and Non), to convince him of a view or a word or an idea that could benefit others and improve your image of tolerance that should be what we are about.


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