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Biden reinstates Eid al-Fitr celebration at the White House

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden marked Eid al-Fitr Monday, restoring celebrations of the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan at the White House after his predecessor scrapped them.

Muslims around the world generally refrain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan. Its end often means gathering to pray, visiting family and friends, and hosting festive meals.

Speaking to hundreds of attendees in the East Room, Biden said he had promised as the presidential candidate to bring the Eid al-Fitr marking back to the White House – but had been forced to hold a virtual celebration last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Today, all over the world, we have seen so many Muslims who have been the target of violence. No one, no one should discriminate or be oppressed, or be suppressed, for their religious beliefs, Biden said. “We have to recognize that there is still a lot of work to do, abroad and here at home. Muslims make our nation stronger every day, even though they still face real challenges and threats in our society, including targeted violence and Islamophobia.

President Joe Biden, left, listens as Talib M. Shareef, right, president and imam of the nation’s historic mosque, Masjid Muhammad in Washington, speaks during a reception to celebrate Eid al-Fitr in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, May 2, 2022.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Presidents have held Eid al-Fitr celebrations from the Clinton administration, to Donald Trump, who has held no official events. He instead released statements marking the holiday, including one in 2020 when Trump said of Muslims “we hope they will find both solace and strength in the healing powers of prayer and devotion.”

Biden said Monday he had recently appointed the first Muslim woman to the federal bench as part of a commitment to build an administration that values ​​diversity and “looks like America.” He also jokingly compared the Ramadan fast to his Catholic faith, which he said requires him to make major sacrifices for Lent, including having to “go 40 days” without “sweets or ice cream”.

Talib Shareef, Imam of Masjid Muhammad in Washington, known to some as “the nation’s mosque,” said of the White House rally, “To be welcomed here is an important statement for our nation and for the world. »

“A statement that Islam is a welcome part of our nation along with all other religious traditions,” Shareef said. “And that the highest office in this country is tied to our nation’s core values ​​and laws protecting religious freedom.”

Also addressing the event was First Lady Jill Biden, who drew applause by saying the party embodies first and foremost “a joy born of love. Love for our families and for our communities, and for THIS community.

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