The American-Arab-Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) asked all its members to boycott the upcoming White House Iftar dinner, the traditional Muslim meal to break the fast during the holy month of Ramadan. The ADC cited the Obama administration's continued support of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza as well as evidence they had spied on prominent Muslim leaders as a reason for protesting the event.
The ADC “calls upon members of the Arab and Muslim communities to join us in the boycott, including tonight’s White House Iftar hosted by President Barack Obama, given the government’s condoning of the current slaughter of Palestinians in Palestine and the spying [on] American Arabs and Muslims domestically,” the group said in a statement released on Monday. "Political engagement is important and having a seat at the table is crucial — but only when that seat is intended to amplify our voice as a community, not tokenize or subdue it," they added.
The group bills itself as "the largest Arab American grassroots civil rights organization in the US" and has reportedly been asking for a meeting Secretary of State John F. Kerry. The United States, a prominent ally of Israel, has supported the country's offensive against Hamas in Gaza, which has killed an estimated 170 people and wounded 1,300, according to ABC. Journalists Glenn Greewald and Murtza Hussain reported earlier this month that documents released by Edward Snowden showed that the U.S. government targeted five prominent Muslim American leaders for increased scrutiny and surveillance.
The White House said they would continue with the dinner, an event celebrated each year in both the Obama and the Bush White Houses, as previously scheduled.
“There are immigrants to this country from a variety of regions in the world who are Muslim. And it is important for every American to understand that they are critical to the success of our country and interwoven into the basic fabric that makes the United States of America such a unique place to live,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at this afternoon's White House press briefing.
The modern day custom of celebrating Ramadan in the White House was started in 1996 by Hillary Rodham Clinton during the three-day celebration Eid-al-Fitr.
"The invited guests tonight include elected officials, members of the diplomatic corps, religious and grassroots leaders in the Muslim American community, and leaders of diverse faiths." National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan told The Washington Post in an e-mail.