White House Iftar Provokes the Islamophobic Lunatic Fringe - updated 8/26/12

Sheila Musaji

Posted Aug 26, 2012      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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White House Iftar Provokes the Islamophobic Lunatic Fringe

by Sheila Musaji

Once again the hateful bigots are determined that there will be no positive interaction with the American Muslim community that will be allowed to pass without hateful objections.  Yesterdays White House Iftar was no exception.  Here is a video of President Obama’s full speech.

Pamela Geller has posted her comments about yesterday’s White House Iftar.

She says:

Obama hosted a huge black-tie affair last night (his third) for Iftar. Imagine this, fresh on the heels of the jihadi attack last Friday resulting in the biggest single loss of life for America since the 911 war began. So man [sic] Americans ambushed and killed at the hands of the devout in the war against jihad.  Ghoulish.

Robert Spencer posted a “scholarly analysis” which ended with this gem

Yes, consider all that Muslim Americans have contributed to the strength and character of our country over the last ten years. The innovations in airport security! The poisoning of the public discourse with “hate” invective against anyone who opposes them! The assault on the freedom of speech! The numerous jihad plots and attacks, from Fort Hood to Times Square to Portland, Oregon to North Carolina! The ever-increasing demands for special accommodation in businesses and schools! The spurious claims of victimhood! And so much more!

Eliana Benador said after accusing President Obama of being guilty for the deaths of the Navy Seals in Afghanistan:

Meanwhile, true to his beliefs, the president in one more disgraceful performance, has hosted last night an Iftar dinner at the White House.  Iftar is the evening meal when Muslims break their fast during Islamic month of Ramadan and is one of the religious observances of Ramadan, done often as a community gathering to break the fast together. 

Among Obama’s guests, were two Muslims representatives in Congress, but also ambassadors of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, among others. 

Insensitive to the fact that Muslim terrorists of Taliban had just killed 22 top commanders of our foremost military elite and the fact that Muslim terrorism continues to target our country, Obama went ahead at his Iftar dinner last night and honored the American Muslims that were killed in the September 11, 2011 terrorist attacks.

As to the “huge” number of guests, it was about 100 guests, much smaller than many other events like the annual Hanukkah gathering of at least 500.  Geller might be surprised that the Israeli ambassador Michael Oren also attended.

Somehow, the Islamophobes don’t see these statements as painting all Muslims with a broadbrush condemnation.  There is no way to understand these complaints except as evidence that they believe that all Muslims are responsible for every action carried out by any Muslim anywhere in the world.  How would inviting Muslims to the White House (including the mother of a 9/11 victim) for an Iftar dinner be a problem unless you think all Muslims are complicit in terrorism or other criminal acts?

In previous articles Spencer has said ”... no one has come up with any gotcha quote from me — no incitement to violence, no broad-brush demonization of all Muslims (although it is routinely alleged that I do this), and not even anything false.“  He also said “No one I know has ever accused the “entire Muslim community of complicity in terrorism.” I have never done that, and challenge Scott Shane or anyone else to show that I have.”

See Spencer and Geller’s “Defense”: Sound and Fury Signifying Nothing for a few examples of false and hateful statements.  See Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller Attempt to Conceal Evidence of “Truth-Telling” for examples of dishonest behavior by these and other Islamophobes.  See A Who’s Who of the Anti-Muslim/Anti-Arab/Islamophobia Industry for detailed information on key Islamophobes.  See What everyone “knows” about Islam and Muslims for responses to many of their ridiculous claims. 

UPDATE 8/12/2011

It is difficult to believe that Pamela Geller could have upped the level of hatred she expressed in her first article on the Iftar, but she has done just that.  In another article on the White House Iftar, she says

I am so disgusted by the singling out of the few Muslims who were part of the attack. If Obama and the Islamic supremacist machine is so insistent on pointing that out, why not point out that, according to Islam, they died as martyrs in an act of jihad? Further, why is the motive behind these acts of war, jihad, prohibited from the national conversation or more specifically, this dinner?

This is sedition. This speech by the President of the United States in the wake of the single largest loss of life in one day by devout Muslims in the act of jihad is treason. And the death toll mounts daily. And it’s all jihad. Our warrior dead are not even buried yet, and he is mourning the Muslim victim [sic, there were many Muslim victims] and first responder who died on 911.

Thank God the Imams on whom I depend for Islamic guidance are clear about the difference between jihad and hirabah, and the fact that terrorists are not martyrs and will face God’s judgement after death.  To acknowledge an American Muslim holiday, as Jewish and Christian holidays are already acknowledged is now “sedition”?

Geller’s article is yet another example of the falsity of Robert Spencer’s statement “No one I know has ever accused the “entire Muslim community of complicity in terrorism.”   I notice that Robert Spencer hasn’t cross-posted this article on his site which I have noticed seems to be a sign that even other Islamophobes know that she has gone too far, and it usually signals an article that will be altered or scrubbed without further comment.

A FEW COMMENTS FROM GELLER’S SITE -  It is always helpful to understand how the followers of these Islamophobes understand their words and the comments section after the article is always informative.  Here are just a few from this article:

— our resident pretender in chief is a despicable & treacherous little bastard. and, as all muslims, he is a schemer.  it will be a glorious day when this country is shed of him in office. a day of liberation, indeed.
— I had to stop watching the Apologist’s Iftar speech at 1:36, because my bullshit meter pegged out all the way into the red zone! Besides, it sickens me to think that this pathetic excuse for a President has the audacity to practice taqiyya right from our White House. Does he actually believe his own prepared speech designed to suck up to Muslims? Does not the Apologist understand what he is doing by emboldening our enemies within, e.g. Ellison, Carson, Muslim Americans. What words come to mind? Sedition? Treason? Impeachment?
— In either case some serious investigations are necessary, with quislings dealt with as our grandparents generation would have done.
—  Effing traitor! No mention of other faiths by this kiss-azz. He shows where his version of loyalty and devotion lie, and it ain’t here, folks.  His Muslim bretheren are sure doing a lot around the world to reign in their “extreme” members…right…  He makes me sick and embarassed for our Nation.  Pitiful joke of a human being and an evil, scheming, America-hating infiltrator.
— Typical Islamic approved lying by the arrogant muslim in chief. Outrage by the general American public, oh no, the sheeple continue to blissfully graze as the muslim wolves breed and ready to attack…  Anyone else notice Obama’s right hand, as shown in the large still photo? Look at the oddly mottled pigment, it’s on the index finger base knuckle and right on the knuckle of the third finger. I’ve never heard that Ramadan fasting causes loss of pigment, so what’s the excuse?
— The sooner the Muslim president is out of the White House, the better off this nation will be. He is an abject failure…unless you’re of the mindset (which very many are) that all of this destruction has been nothing but intentional. A Muslim overseeing the degradation of the West, specifically the USA…why, what an outlandish concept!
— he mourns these pigs he does not mourn of our men and women in uniform military or civilian time to remove a piece of shit from the white house why not muslim style with stones respect that

You get the idea.  Goebbels couldn’t have done a better job of stirring up the “true patriots”.  The fact that Geller will allow such comments to stand on her site is evidence of her true purpose and character.

Right Side News published an article Islam is not a part of our civilization about the Iftar which included this:

To sum it all up: our civilization is based on the principles of the Golden Rule and critical thought. Islam is based on dualistic ethics and authoritative thought. There is no compromise between the opposites of the Golden Rule and dualistic ethics. There is no half-way between authoritative thought and critical thought. Islam’s principle of submission means that only active resistance can let us survive.

We have a 1400 year history of the interaction between Islam and Kafir nations. The data matches the theory. Centuries after Islam enters the culture the host culture is annihilated—see Turkey. There is no compatibility between Islam and us. Islam is not now, nor can it ever be, a part of our civilization. It is the final goal of Islam to annihilate all Kafir civilizations. Its first stage of—we are just like you, only different—should be seen for what it is. No amount of preaching by apologists can change Islam’s political doctrine and history.

Here is the text of an article I wrote in 2009 responding to complaints about the 2009 White House Iftar which sums up the ridiculous nature of this entire specious argument - Was Obama Ramadan Iftar a Cover for secret Buddhist Leanings

An absolutely ridiculous article Obama converts to Islam, fact or fiction about President Obama’s Ramadan message at the White House Iftar caught my attention.  In addition to including a picture of the satirical New Yorker cover (which the writer obviously thought was serious), the writer says:

“I can’t find any messages that Obama gave during Easter or other Christian celebrations. Also several years ago during an interview about his faith, Obama’s answers didn’t match that of basic Christianity. Since leaving Rev Wright’s Chicago area church and moving to Washington President Obama has not found a Christian church. At the very least Obama doesn’t seem to pay much attention to his Christian faith, a charge many Christians are guilty of but would it really surprise anyone to learn at some point that Obama has acknowledged he has become a Muslim?”

Come on Islamophobes let’s get at least some facts mixed in with the inuendo and delusion.  How is that anyone “can’t find any messages that Obama gave during Easter or other Christian celebrations”?

Even before he was President, President-Elect Obama
issued a Christmas message.
— He also ”...extended his greetings to the Sikh community in America on the tercentenary celebrations of consecration of the Guru Granth Sahib.” 
— He hosted a Jewish Seder while still campaigning. 
— In 2008 Barack Obama held a conference call with more than 900 rabbis to extend greetings to them and their congregants ahead of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.  Obama told the rabbis that the Jewish New Year themes of renewal and rededication to improving our world resonate with him, as they echo the themes he has emphasized in his life and during his campaign.  “I extend my New Year’s greetings to you and to your congregations and communities,” Obama told the rabbis. “The Jewish New Year is unlike the new years of any other cultures, in part because it’s not simply a time for revelry; it’s a time for what might be called determined rejoicing - a time to put your affairs with other people in order so you can honestly turn to God, a time to recommit to the serious work of tikkun olam - of mending the world.”

President Obama
hosted a Passover Seder, the First Ever Held At the White House.  He also told a group of 75 Jewish leaders at a local synagogue that he “feels a sense of “kinship” with the Jewish community, and that he has been influenced in his life by Jewish writers, philosophers and friends.”  There is also a photo of Obama wearing a yarmulka.  All of this prompted a satirical article entitled Is Obama really Jewish
gave an address on the occasion of Passover and Easter this year. And, he and his family attended Easter services at St. John’s Episcopal Church.  The address opened with the words:  “I speak to you today during a time that is holy and filled with meaning for believers around the world. Earlier this week, Jewish people gathered with family and friends to recite the stories of their ancestors’ struggle and ultimate liberation. Tomorrow, Christians of all denominations will come together to rejoice and remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ.      These are two very different holidays with their own very different traditions. But it seems fitting that we mark them both during the same week. For in a larger sense, they are both moments of reflection and renewal. They are both occasions to think more deeply about the obligations we have to ourselves and the obligations we have to one another, no matter who we are, where we come from, or what faith we practice.”
— issued a Rosh Hashanah message to the Jewish community for 2009.  You can see the text and video here 
held a Hanukkah celebration at the White House which included a Menorah lighting and over 500 guests. 
lit the National Christmas tree.  NOTE:  Snopes.com has debunked the false charge that the White House was going to call their trees “holiday trees” and forbid religious ornaments.  False Snopes says.  Here you can see the White House Christmas decorations.
held a whole series of Christmas Parties.
delivered a White House Christmas message
hosted a Diwali celebration at the White House

It seems as if Obama is attempting to be as inclusive as possible in honoring the incredibly varied religious beliefs of Americans.  And, I am certain that when his first Christmas in the White House comes around he will deliver a message and light the national Christmas tree, just as he continued the custom of the annual White House Easter egg roll.

To recognize the accomplishments of United We Serve (an interfaith effort of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships), President Obama designated Aug. 31-Sept. 6 as Interfaith Service Week during which Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and people of other faiths are working together to overcome religious divides while strengthening local communities.  More than 3,000 interfaith projects have come out of the United We Serve Initiative.   

What really riles the Islamophobes is that President Obama hosted an Iftar at the White House.  They seem to have forgotten that White House dinners marking the holy month are nothing new. Former President George W. Bush held iftars every year during his eight years in office.  In fact, “The iftar dinner follows a White House tradition that predates Obama’s time in office. President Bill Clinton hosted the first iftar meal at the White House, and President George Bush continued the tradition throughout both of his terms. The White House has hosted numerous other ethnic and religious festivities, including the Persian New Year, the annual Easter Egg roll, and a Passover seder.”

If anything this years White House Iftar may have broken tradition in its inclusion of other than Muslims.  “Among the guests were Israel’s U.S. ambassador and leaders of the Orthodox and Reform movements of Judaism.  Ambassador Michael Oren, Orthodox Union director of public affairs Nathan Diament, and Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism director Rabbi David Saperstein were on the guest list for the dinner.” 

As conspiracy theories go this Obama is a secret Muslim theory is about as poorly researched and backed up as it gets. 

I think I’ll go with the Obama is a Buddhist theory, or even the Barack Obama is secretly a Zen Buddhist Master theory.  There is a lot of “documentation?” for this.  There was, after all a Buddhists for Obama group.  A Buddhist Blog site ran an article calling Obama an “inspiration to the world”  AND they ran a photo of Obama with the Dalai Lama.  The Buddhist Channel Buddhist Channel reported “Several Buddhists said Obama’s message of unity accords with Dharma teachings on interconnectedness and the dangers of an us-versus-them dualism. Morever, they say, the Democrat’s background reflects the Buddha’s belief that all beings can become enlightened, regardless of race or class.”.  In an article The curious case of Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama’s scarf it was reported that “In an intriguing footnote to the inauguration last week of President Barack Obama, Buddhist web-sites have been buzzing with the story that as he was being sworn in, Obama was carrying in his pocket a kata, or ceremonial scarf, that had come from the Dalai Lama.”  This was also reported on Beliefnet.

Definitely, the secret Buddhist theory trumps some of the others out there.  Is Barack Obama a secret…Hindu just doesn’t have enough “evidence”.

Perhaps Obama’s White House Iftar was only a cover for Obama’s real secret.

UPDATES on White House Events

—The White House held a celebration of Hannukah at the White House which featured a Menorah lighting and remarks by the President.  The full text of the President’s remarks at this reception here.  2010
— Obama lit the National Christmas Tree, and said ‘Merry Christmas’ three times.  2010
— Obama held the second Passover Seder at the White House.  2010
Statement by the President on Diwali.  2010
Remarks by the President on the Occasion of Rosh Hashanah 2010.
— Obama hosted an Easter Prayer Breakfast.  2010
— Obama hosted the third annual Passover Seder at the White House. 2011
— The White House Easter Egg Roll was hosted by the President.  2011
— Obama hosted an Easter Prayer Breakfast.  Remarks by the President at Easter Prayer Breakfast.  2011

UPDATE 8/26/2012

This year, President Obama again hosted a White House Iftar.  Right Wing Watch reports on The Family Research Council’s response to the event:

FRC sends out weekly Prayer Team alerts, asking “for your prayers relating to various public policy issues.”

This week’s alert called Islam – the religion of 2.6 million Americans and 1.6 billion people around the world – a “fanatical religion.” The alert also attacked a recent White House event with the American Muslim community – an Iftar dinner to mark the end of the Ramadan fast.
At the dinner, President Obama highlighted the role of Muslim-Americans in government and showcased Thomas Jefferson’s Koran. Here’s FRC’s interpretation:
In his remarks, the President suggested that Thomas Jefferson may have hosted the first White House Iftar Dinner and he showcased the Koran from Jefferson’s library (Fact: Thomas Jefferson long advocated using military force to deal with hostile Muslims in the Mediterranean and ordered the Marines to Tripoli among his first acts as President and had a Koran primarily to study the fanatical religion of his adversaries).
FRC characterized Obama’s remarks at the event as “amazing,” and not in a good way. What was so amazing, you ask? For one thing, Obama “praised Muslims in positions throughout his administration,” including Huma Abedin. The group also accused Obama of giving preference to Islam at the expense of Christians and Christianity:
The Iftar event stood in bold contrast to the National Day of Prayer. In four years, President Obama has neither hosted a White House NDP event nor sent a representative to the national event on Capitol Hill, as previous presidents have done. […] President Obama’s Iftar remarks are amazing reading. While he said great things about religious freedom, his tribute to Islam stands in shocking contrast to his dealings with Christians and the National Day of Prayer. He praised Muslims in positions throughout his administration.
This is a very telling line of argument. FRC is conflating the National Day of Prayer – which is chaired by the wife of FRC’s founder, James Dobson – with all of Christianity, and it’s not by mistake. Religious Right leaders have long thought of themselves and their followers as the only real Christians.
That’s why Obama’s 2012 Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House and Obama’s speech at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast don’t count. Obama’s 2012 White House Seder is probably just more evidence to them that he’s not really Christian. Obama even issued a presidential proclamation declaring the 2012 National Day of Prayer, but that’s not good enough. They want him to come and kiss Dobson’s ring.
Remarkably, FRC used the same alert described above to call for prayers for “moderation and civility in the public debate” over social issues. That’s how blind FRC is to its own rhetoric.
Meanwhile the group is preparing to host Paul Ryan as the headliner of its Values Voter Summit next month in DC. Earlier in the month, Romney met privately with Dobson and FRC’s Vice President, Jerry Boykin, who has said that Islam is “evil” and should not be protected under the First Amendment. Romney met one-on-one with Perkins in mid-July.

In the article Federally Mandated National Day of Prayer Unconstitutional I noted in a 2009 update that

In response to the Muslim Day of Prayer on Capitol Hill, officials from the Family Research Council and the National Day of Prayer Task Force hosted a national call-in prayer-a-thon on the night before in which one woman prayed, “We take together (God’s) sword and break the sword of Islam over this nation, and we loose forth the blood-drenched sword of Jesus Christ.”  Also during this conference call: “Shirley Dobson, who heads the National Day of Prayer Task Force, said she and other Christians “are so troubled at what we see going on in our nation—we’re watching the foundations crumble.”

According to Dakota Voice“Christian evangelist Lou Engle of TheCall has partnered with Shirley Dobson, chair of the National Day of Prayer Task Force and wife of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, to issue an urgent nationwide call for Christians to pray and fast on Sept. 25 – the day when up to 50,000 Muslims plan to pray in front of the Capitol building.”  This event was promoted on The Call site.  Windows International issued a prayer alert which included the statement that “It is our responsibility to pray the Lord protects America from the subtle tactics satan is using to release demonic prayers in a nation founded on Christian principles.”

Christian protestors who showed up at the Muslim Prayer included “Proselytizing Christians in red T-shirts with the slogan, “Jesus is the standard,” targeted Muslims as they walked on the lawn. A few with bullhorns denounced Islamic beliefs. And at the nearby Sam Rayburn House Office building, a group called Stop Islamization Of America held a panel discussion criticizing the event.   “They say it’s a prayer event, but it’s a political action,” said Daniel L. Adams, a leader of the SIOA group. “Folks have their own places to worship. They’re called mosques, synagogues or churches. But when you come to the Capitol of the United States, it becomes political, because it’s a demonstration.”

Amazing!  Basically the same folks who objected to Obama not holding official Christian National Day of Prayer services in the White House are now saying that any prayer in a public place, outside of places of worship is “political” and a “demonstration”.