Posted by on July 23, 2012 in Blog

By Nasser Siadat

2012 Summer Intern

“The month of Ramadan is about so much more than abstaining from food,” said New Jersey Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) in his opening remarks at the Interfaith Capitol Hill Ramadan reception hosted by Islamic Relief on Thursday. While the event served the last daylight snacks many fasting Muslims will enjoy for the foreseeable future, it also hoped to put an end to the inflammatory language and accusations by many members of Congress this week towards the American Muslim community.

Islamic Relief, a non-profit organization providing emergency response and humanitarian relief in 26 countries, planned the event well in advance of the recent McCarthy-esque allegations against members of the American Muslim community, to highlight the accomplishments of the organization. But nevertheless, the event hosted in the Rayburn House Office building was a powerful acknowledgment of the contribution and presence of American Muslims in both government and civil society.

More than 250 attended the public event, along with 6 ambassadors and leaders of various religious communities. While Congressman Andre Carson (D-IN) and Congressmen Keith Ellison (D-MN) partnered to co-host the event, a number of prominent Congressmen ran between votes on the House floor to show their support for the millions of American Muslims observing the holy month of Ramadan.

After greeting the crowd with traditional Islamic greetings and thanking the Islamic Relief organization for hosting the event, Congressman Ellison wasted little time responding to Bachman. “No matter what some people might say, in America, you still need evidence for allegations,” he said. “In America, it is still ok to be any faith you aspire to be, that’s your business, and all Americans should be enjoying the same rights.”

Several more Congressmen used the occasion to join leading political figures such as Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and John Boehner (R-OH), in condemning Bachmann’s recent attacks.  “We don’t have to hide and we cannot afford to be silent” said Congressman Pascrell, encouraging attendees to be vocal and educate others on the true message of Islam and the month of Ramadan. “Although silence makes no mistakes, these are times we have to speak.”

For the many Arab Americans and American Muslims living under the scrutiny that has come as a result of intolerance and prejudice, this event highlighted the very universal message of Ramadan that all peoples of faith and non-faith can relate to— dialogue fosters understanding, and that despite our ideological or political differences, we all unite on a very basic humanitarian level.  

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