After deciding in his first year of office not to hold the annual White House dinner with Muslim leaders marking the end of the Islamic holiday of Ramadan, President Trump hosted the event this year.
A critic of political Islam who contends the dinners have put presidents in the position of making disingenuously gracious pronouncements about the holiday and the religion of Islam, said that while President Trump should have been more careful with his words, the absence of radical Muslim leaders from groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations at last Wednesday’s gathering was significant.
CAIR, a group founded by Hamas operatives that was named in a terror-funding case, had declared it wouldn’t accept an invitation to the 2018 Iftar dinner if invited, noted Hugh Fitzgerald, writing for Jihad Watch.
When Trump decided not to invite CAIR in the first place, the Islamic group protested and decided to hold its own Iftar event just outside the White House.
CAIR’s protest was based on the claim that Trump has instituted a “Muslim ban.” But Fitzgerald points out the ban on granting visas to people from eight countries includes two nations that are non-Muslim, Venezuela and North Korea. Every one of the eight nations on the ban list has experienced economic and political turmoil related to terrorism. Further, only six of the 57 Muslim-majority states in the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation are affected.
The list, Fitzgerald argued, “reflects not anti-Muslim bias, but the considered judgment of homeland security officials that people from these countries pose unusual security risks, too high to ignore.”
Fitzgerald said that apart from a Muslim army chaplain, Imam Agbere, who was singled out for praise by Trump, there was no evidence of other Muslim Americans being invited to the dinner Wednesday. The other guests were Arab and Muslim foreign ambassadors.
“It is possible that those known to be favorable to Trump were not invited to spare them subsequent problems,” he wrote. “For if they had accepted, their identities would have become known, and they would immediately become targets for CAIR and similar Muslim groups, depicted as traitors to the umma for attending the Trump-hosted Iftar; they might even become the target of physical attacks.”
Fitzgerald noted that in Trump’s remarks on Islam, he said the religion is known for a message of “peace, clarity [he probably meant “charity”], and love.”
“If he meant this, then he needs, and quickly, a re-education on the subject of Islam. If he did not mean it, however, it becomes semi-acceptable, an example demonstrating that for Trump, too, ‘war is deceit,’” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald acknowledged that some will still find the president’s remarks on Islam “unforgivable.”
“I’m inclined to think that Trump thought it was okay to practice his own form of taqiyya, offering a modicum of praise of the faith where none was due. He assumed that his supporters would understand that he was doing the minimum, as he saw it, to satisfy his diplomatic guests with this insincere pro forma praise.”
“Taqiyya” refers to a doctrine allowing Muslims to lie to non-Muslims in certain circumstances to advice Islam.
He noted the key passage in which the president said:
In gathering together this evening, we honor a sacred tradition of one of the world’s great religions. For the Islamic faithful, the Iftar dinner marks the end of the daily period of fasting and spiritual reflection that occurs throughout the holy month of Ramadan. Iftars mark the coming together of families and friends to celebrate a timeless message of peace, clarity[sic] and love. There is great love. It’s a moment to call upon our highest ideals, and to give thanks for the many blessings we enjoy. Thank you very much.
Fitzgerald suggest the following rewrite:
“In gathering together this evening, we mark the tradition of the Iftar dinner, which breaks the Ramadan fast in the faith of Islam, one of the world’s major religions. Muslims the world over spend this month in fasting, to commemorate the first revelation of the Qur’an to Muhammad. And the Iftar dinners by which they break their fast are a time for families and friends to come together and share. And while we may not be family, many here I certainly consider to now be friends, and I think it appropriate to share this Iftar dinner at the White House with all of you. Thank you very much.”
He says his rewrite “reduces Islam from a ‘great’ to a ‘major’ religion, leaves out the offending phrase about a ‘timeless message of peace, clarity [sic for ‘charity’], and love,’ yet still manages to maintain a positive tone and end on a note of human warmth.”
Meanwhile, he says, “CAIR and Company, sputtering their rage, held a demonstration outside the White House while the Iftar Dinner was being held.”
“There are about 3 million Muslims in America. For this anti-Trump’s-Iftar rally, CAIR managed to attract less than a few dozen. That cannot be described as a success.”