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Muslim leaders decline Ramadan break fast dinner with Biden over anger with Gaza

Biden has been struggling with Muslim voters as well.

Published: April 4, 2024 10:15am

Muslim leaders declined invitations to President Joe Biden's Ramadan break fast dinner over his response to the Israel-Hamas war, as his campaign has been attempting to court Muslim voters. 

Despite a large celebration last year, only administration officials attended the iftar dinner Tuesday, per The Associated Press

Emerge, a Muslim-American advocacy group that was invited to meet with Biden and other administration officials, said Tuesday, "[W]e asked the White House to postpone this gathering and to convene a proper policy meeting with representatives of the community’s choosing, rather than those selected by the White House."

The group called on the administration to "leverage its enormous support for Israel" and demand an "immediate and permanent ceasefire," more aid into Gaza and a pathway to Palestinian statehood. The organization also called for the White House to resume funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which was put on hold after allegations emerged that the agency's employees participated in the Oct. 7, 2023, attack on Israel that resulted in the deaths of about 1,200 people. 

Since the Oct. 7 attack, the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between civilian and combatant deaths, says more than 33,000 Palestinians have died. 

The Council on American–Islamic Relations also rejected the iftar invitation and led a group of 80 advocacy organizations in a letter criticizing the president's policies. 

"Your administration's plan to certify Israel's compliance with U.S. requirements despite these clear facts is both unlawful and morally indefensible," the groups wrote. 

Some Muslim leaders did attend a White House meeting Tuesday before the iftar, but the administration did not release their names. 

Meanwhile, Biden has been struggling with Muslim voters in swing states such as Michigan, where 16.2% of Democratic primary voters cast their ballots as "undecided," rather than in favor of Biden. Over the past few months, Biden's rhetoric has been critical of Israel, but the United States reportedly authorized more bombs to be transferred to the country in recent days, per CNN.

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