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Iftars hosting US and UK politicians stir outrage in Muslim communities amid Gaza war

Muslim activists say the iftars are 'photo ops' amid western support for Israel's war on Gaza
New York City Mayor Eric Adams speaks at an iftar hosted in Brooklyn, New York on 29 March 2024.
New York City mayor Eric Adams speaks at an iftar in Brooklyn, New York, on 29 March 2024 (X/Mayor Eric Adams)

A string of iftars hosting US and British government officials and lawmakers have caused outrage amongst Muslim communities after many have called for a complete boycott of such events in protest against western support for Israel's war on Gaza.

Over the weekend, Imam Mohamed Magid, who leads the Adams Center masjid in Sterling, Virginia, took part in an iftar with US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

The iftar was billed as an all-encompassing discussion about the plight of Muslim communities in Gaza, Afghanistan and Sudan, as well as the plight of Uyghur Muslims.

Thomas-Greenfield's social media post about the iftar went viral, garnering more than a million views on the social media platform X and leading to outrage from Muslims in the US.

Thomas-Greenfield, in her capacity as Biden's UN ambassador, has vetoed several UN Security Council resolutions calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. The US's sole vote had blocked ceasefire resolutions despite Washington being the only country opposed to the ceasefire measures. 

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A UN Security Council resolution passed on 25 March with a vote of 14 in favour to none against, with the US abstaining from the vote. 

The Biden administration at large has supported Israel's war on Gaza, which has killed more than 32,000 Palestinians, the majority of whom are women and children, decimated civilian infrastructure while also attacking medical workers and journalists.

In addition to using its veto power in favour of Israel at the UN, the administration has provided billions of dollars in weapons to Israel, including munitions and 2,000-pound bombs.

"This is a photo opp. with the woman who has repeatedly raised her hands in support of Israel’s genocide," Zahra Billoo, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' San Francisco chapter, said on X about the iftar.

"Our movement allies are quitting their jobs and blocking bridges while  @imammagid and  @IRF_Ambassador are posing for pictures."

Muslims around the United States have been calling for a boycott of engagements with elected officials who have shown support for Israel's war, from the local level up to the White House.

In New York, Muslim and pro-Palestine activists were calling for a boycott of iftars hosting New York City mayor Eric Adams. Yet Adams still held an iftar that was attended by some members of the city's Muslim community, leading to protests outside the venue.

Last week, the Pakistani American Skilled Women Organization held an iftar attended by the New York mayor, with the event getting criticised online.

In the United Kingdom, the Concordia Forum, a group of Muslim leaders that says it is an exclusive and "invitation-only global network", held an iftar that hosted Labour Party leader Keir Starmer.

"A lackey for the Genocide Lobby has no honour," said Cage International, a UK-based advocacy organisation established in response to the detention of individuals without trial at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

"Nor is there any for bootlicking native informants who lack the capacity to persuade a few dozen Muslims out of 3.87 million to sit in the same room as you."

Similar to the US, Muslims in the UK have shown disapproval of the Labour Party over its stance on the war in Gaza.

In early October, Starmer defended Israel's decision to cut power and water supplies in Gaza, saying Israel had the "right" to do so. He later backtracked after his remarks were widely condemned, saying “medicines, food, fuel and water must get into Gaza immediately”.

A February poll showed that Muslim support for Labour had dropped by 26 percent.

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