The media is widely reporting that President Obama is hosting a White House “Iftar dinner” to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. According to a report in the the Washington Post:
President Obama will host a White House dinner Tuesday night celebrating Ramadan, the Muslim holy month during which the faithful fast from dawn to sunset each day. Obama will be joined at the dinner by three Cabinet members, five members of Congress, nearly two dozen foreign diplomats, and 33 community leaders. Among the invited diplomats are the Israeli ambassador and the chief of mission for the Palestinian Liberation Organization, as well as the Indian and Pakistani ambassadors to the United States. Asked about the unusual step of inviting the Israeli ambassador to the dinner, the White House described it as a small part of the event. “Tonight was an opportunity to continue the tradition of hosting iftars at the White House, while celebrating Muslim Americans, and tonight’s dinner is made up of a diverse group of individuals from business leaders to members of the US military,” White House spokesman Thomas Vietor said. “Additionally, we thought it was an opportunity to reach out to ambassadors of nations with sizable Muslim populations, including the ambassadors of France, the [United Kingdom], India, and Israel.” Obama intends to highlight one story in particular: that of Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, a young woman who broke high school basketball records in Massachusetts before heading to the University of Memphis — while wearing a traditional hijab. Obama, who held an intimate Passover Seder at the White House in April, will host the dinner beginning at 8 p.m. tonight. Ramadan, which started on Aug. 22, will end on Sept. 20. On Aug. 21, the president released a Ramadan video message to Muslims around the world.
The Post report indicates that Ingrid Mattson, President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) will be in attendance representing the only large U.S. Muslim Brotherhood organization at the affair. Mattson was appointed as the first female leader of ISNA in 2007 and since appears to have been serving as the new “public face” for the organization. A report by the Hudson Institute has identified ISNA as a major part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. The organization has a long history of fundamentalism, anti-semitism, and support for terrorism and during the recent Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial, ISNA was named as an unindicted co-conspirator. Although recently ISNA has issued condemnations of terrorism which for the first time identify Hamas and Hezbollah by name, there is no indication that the organization has ever addressed or acknowledged its history. ISNA has made ongoing attempts to form a coalition with elements of the U.S. Jewish community.
The Post report indicates that the following individuals with various ties and/or good relations with the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood will also be in attendance:
- Imam Yahya Hendi, Chaplain, Georgetown University (for U.S. MB ties go here)
- Ms. Dalia Mogahed, Director, Gallup Center for Muslim Studies (for U.S. MB ties go here)
- Congressman Keith Ellison (Minnesota 5th) (for U.S. MB ties go here)
- Congressman Andre Carson (Indiana 7th) (for U.S. MB ties go here)
Also attending the dinner will be Congressman John Conyers (Michigan 14th) who has been highly supportive of U.S. Brotherhood causes over the years and Mr. J. Saleh Williams of the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association which has been recently been meeting with a series of U.S. Brotherhood organizations also at times involving Congressmen Ellison and Carson.
Other individuals of interest in attendance are Rabbi David Saperstein of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, and Mr. Maen Areikat, Chief of Mission, PLO. As noted above, ISNA has recently been engaged in ongoing attempts to form a coalition with elements of the U.S. Jewish community, chiefly involving the Reform Jewish organizations.