President Obama's Ramadan slap at Muslims
President Barack Obama speaks as he hosts an Iftar dinner in the at the White House on July 14, 2014.
July 28th, 2014
09:38 AM ET

President Obama's Ramadan slap at Muslims

Opinion by Salam Al-Marayati, special to CNN

(CNN) - Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush all met with American Muslims, as they did with most other religious groups.

President Barack Obama, under advice from his aides that association with Muslims is politically damaging, has yet to invite American Muslim organizations and leaders into the Oval Office for substantive discussions on domestic and international policies.

Yes, Muslims from all over the country accepted a White House invitation to attend the Iftar dinner earlier this month with the President to break our fast, to break bread, and to build bridges of understanding.

In Ramadan, a month for spiritual replenishment in the Islamic calendar, an estimated 1.5 billion Muslims around the world perform an obligatory fast from predawn to sunset for the purpose of purifying one’s soul through prayer and self-sacrifice.

But instead of feeling spiritually uplifted and civically engaged by attending an Islamic celebration in the White House, the Muslim guests were shocked and dismayed when they heard the President say, “Israel has the right to defend itself.”

For Muslims, that talking point is code for whitewashing decades of atrocities committed against the people of Gaza: the kids killed on the Gaza Beach, the civilians bombed in the most densely populated cage in the world, and the attacking of civilians who resort to donkey carts for transportation.

Obama began his presidency conveying aspirations of bridging the divide between the United States and the Muslim world. He needs American Muslims to be a part of that mission. Instead he has continued the unfortunate legacy of excluding of anyone who supports Palestine.

Palestine is a dirty word in Washington and criticizing Israel's policies toward Palestinians is a political taboo.

We can talk about Darfur, Nigeria, Sudan, Pakistan, Iran and every Arab country. We can criticize all of them, along with Russia and China, and call for sanctions on human rights violators. But bringing up Israel's atrocities in the West Bank or Gaza is met with denial and disgust, generating millions of disaffected Americans in the process.

There is more tolerance in Israel for critiquing the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza than there is inside the Beltway.

America is our home, and Barack Obama is our president. It is our duty to express our disenchantment and to demand change when the leader of our country is wrong.

The President must acknowledge that we, the American people, are funding the siege of Gaza. The whole world knows that America is giving political cover for the military occupation of Palestinians.

It is time to tell America the truth of our complicity in robbing Palestinians of their human dignity.

Terrorism is evil, and we will continue to partner with the President in countering the rhetoric of ideological religious extremism and to end the scourge of terrorism, not for political gain but out of our sacred duty.

Now, the President needs to acknowledge that occupation is evil, and it is time he recognizes those engaged in nonviolent resistance against the occupation. They are those who live every day through checkpoints, blockades, home demolitions and expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Call it an internment camp, a prison - Gaza has become unlivable.

The President must also face a reality: Not a single Muslim serves as a senior policy adviser in the White House or as an under secretary in the departments of Justice, Homeland Security, State or Defense.

There is no Middle East envoy of Muslim background. The President has yet to name a Muslim as ambassador to any of the 50 Muslim-majority countries.

The White House Ramadan dinner cannot be the quota for engagement or enfranchisement.

We cannot give Obama a pass because he has said the right things in regard to his respect for Islam, nor can we release him from accountability out of fear of Republicans.

Muslims represent 4 million to 6 million Americans and include practically every race and socioeconomic level in the United States. They vote and contribute, and they helped Obama win the presidency.

But Obama has gone so far in proving he’s not Muslim that he has excluded Muslims from vital national conversations. We’ll continue to engage his administration to correct this egregious breach of public trust.

We demand that he fulfill his promise for change and be the president we voted for. Otherwise, America will be less American.

Salam Al-Marayati is president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. The views expressed in this column belong to Al-Marayati. 

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Foreign policy • Islam • Israel • Middle East • Muslim • Opinion • Politics • Prejudice

soundoff (574 Responses)
  1. zhilla1980wasp


    hey..you brought this up....and now you dont got an answer?
    August 6, 2014 at 9:37 am"

    lmfao: ofcourse i have an answer for your disasociative disorder god, someone with multiple personalities wrote about him.

    that good enough for you? we went through this i explained that one being can not have three "beings/ personalities" without being seriously messed up in the head.

    your reply was some BS about how god was one being, but not one being. do you even bother to read what comes out of the dense skull of yours?

    yes my last reply on the whole three personality god, was my way of saying enjoy your man-made delusion; because that's all it is kermie. your very own fairytale of what you will get when you die; the thing you religious freaks forget is you are sacrificing the life you have now, for the hope of something when you die.

    August 6, 2014 at 10:21 am |
    • kermit4jc

      do YOUbother to read it? it snOT onebeing has three beings...that's nOT what I said..I made disctinct explanation.....one God being manifest in three persons does NOT conflict..if I said ONE person manifested in THREE persons..then yes, it ouwld contradict..youre thinking too shallow in this

      August 6, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
      • zhilla1980wasp

        kermie: "one God being manifest in three persons does NOT conflict"

        what is your god; the borg? lmao

        regardless of how you try to explain away this blaring flaw; you can't.

        if one being became three, then you would have GODS, plural. three different beings, not one.
        if one god has different personalities, then it has a mental disorder...............they make meds for that.

        / l \
        god jesus holy ghost

        you see how that wouldn't work; if three are one, then it is crazy. if it made three selves, then they would be GODS, not god.

        August 7, 2014 at 12:48 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          youre still not using your brain sir...again..one WHAT and three WHOS...that does NOT conflict..it then does NOT become three gods when we say three persons..whats happening is YOU are changing words.....it would not work if we said ONE God manifest into three gods...or ONE person manifest in three persons....yore getting yourself all confused....and again the personality disorder works only on humans, since were are finite and limited, unlike God......youre comparing apples to oranges. the argument you attempt does not work.

          August 7, 2014 at 1:21 pm |
  2. zhilla1980wasp

    kermie: ok which of these statements you made from page two are correct?

    1) I came to know OF god PERSONALLY thru God Himself....thats how we ALL come to know someone personally...

    2) i dont know him personally..I may know ABOUT Obama, but I dont know him personally...same with God.

    soooooo do you or don't you "personally" know god? you seem to be following the example set in your bible very well; cont rad ict yourself in the same paragraph.

    August 6, 2014 at 7:48 am |
    • kermit4jc

      you need to read my comment again...I am saying one does NOT get to know someone personally simply by READING about them...

      August 6, 2014 at 9:38 am |
      • zhilla1980wasp

        kermie: re-read your own words......slowly.

        " I came to know OF god PERSONALLY" "i dont know him personally.........same with God."

        sooo do you know god personally; or don't you?

        August 6, 2014 at 10:07 am |
        • kermit4jc

          Thanks for pointing out the error..I know God personally...meaning I know Him.I experience Him in my life, I experience His presence, converse with him, etc etc

          August 6, 2014 at 3:05 pm |
  3. kermit4jc

    can you read? when I said God came from nowhere..it means He was NOT created..he is ETERNAL...even you yourself used the word eternal...which means NO beginning..use your brain....if God had no beginning..then he is nOT created..its a no brainer....as for Thor.....agai8n I know god personally..he is NOT Thor....thor is a false god that does not even exist...Thor has NO attributes like the God i know -Just, eternal (Thor doesnt claim to be eternal) Perfect Love, Almighty (Thor is not alone, he has other gods with him-that does not sound like an ALMIGHTY God) etc etc...its sad youd have to bring up other gods like that...shows your total ignorance of gods

    August 5, 2014 at 3:25 pm |
    • zhilla1980wasp

      kermie: which of these two statements is more likely true?

      1) 1st law of thermal dynamics " energy can not be created, nor destroyed." (hint: that would mean it's eternal)

      2) "He (god) was NOT created..he is ETERNAL."

      hmmmm seeing we have the equivalent of the total amount of water on the planet worth of information, as opposed to your single molecule worth of "proof of god"..............my money is on energy being the cause of everything; not your lazy "sky-daddy"

      August 6, 2014 at 7:35 am |
      • kermit4jc

        your question is irrelevant..thats enegry and plus God isnot not natural (for which this would apply) He is not of this realm (of which this would apply)

        August 6, 2014 at 9:36 am |
        • zhilla1980wasp

          kermie: i highly doubt it's irrelevent; it's accually shows that we have more knowledge and evidence for energy; then you will ever have for your or any god.

          that is why you have faith; we have the scienctific method.
          you say you know; we truly know.

          that's why you have tantrums when the only thing you have to fall back on is a single book that was edited, lost, found, revised, interrpted, etc etc etc. enjoy your human made delusion kermie.

          August 6, 2014 at 10:13 am |
        • kermit4jc

          you are so ignorant..I have no faith God exists! so don't tell me "that's why youhave your faith" you don't know my faith.....againwhat YOU stated is "laws of nature" God is nOT nature..He CREATED nature thus he is OUTSIDE of it....and so your argument does not work..and you are lying again..I have had no tantrums about the editing..youh ave yet to back up your claim that its edited..yo make the claims but show nothing

          August 6, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
    • igaftr

      "....if God had no beginning..then he is nOT created..its a no brainer.."

      No brainer, maybe, but certainly this would only make sense to someone choosing not to use their brain.

      You have no evidence at all that Thos is any different than your god kermit. Both are the products of mens imaginations.

      You claimed you were leaving, and there was much rejoicing. Why are you back?

      August 6, 2014 at 8:10 am |
      • zhilla1980wasp

        igaftr: "You claimed you were leaving, and there was much rejoicing. Why are you back?"

        that would because kermie's god denied his free will prayer to stop being punishedby us "evil atheists". lmao
        it just wasn't part of his god's plan to let kermie leave.

        August 6, 2014 at 8:34 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.