A Muslim mayor from New Jersey expressed shock and disappointment after he was blocked from attending President Joe Biden’s Eid-al-Fitr celebration that marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan after the Secret Service determined that he was not allowed in the building shortly before he was to arrive for the ceremony.
On Monday, Prospect Park Mayor Mohamed T. Khairullah was in his car and on the way to the event where Biden would deliver remarks to hundreds of guests including Muslim leaders when he was notified by the White House that he was not cleared for attendance by Secret Service although it was not made clear to him what the exact reason was.
“It left me baffled, shocked, and disappointed,” Khairullah told the Associated Press in a telephone interview on his way back to New Jersey after being denied entry to the ceremony. “It’s not a matter of I didn’t get to go to a party. It’s why I did not go. And it’s a list that has targeted me because of my identity. And I don’t think the highest office in the United States should be down with such profiling.”
Tonight, President Biden hosted a celebration of Eid al-Fitr at the White House. Eid Mubarak! pic.twitter.com/evWc3aTnKU
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 2, 2023
The Secret Service confirmed that Khairullah, the longest-serving Muslim mayor in New Jersey, was not authorized to attend Biden’s Eid celebration.
“While we regret any inconvenience this may have caused, the mayor was not allowed to enter the White House complex this evening,” the Secret Service communications chief Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement. “Unfortunately we are not able to comment further on the specific protective means and methods used to conduct our security operations at the White House.”
Khairullah, a critic of former President Donald J. Trump’s “Muslim travel ban” which restricted entry into the U.S. for travelers from several countries known to be terrorist hotbeds, contacted the New Jersey Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) after the unpleasant surprise he received only miles away from the White House.
“If these such incidents are happening to high-profile and well-respected American-Muslim figures like Mayor Khairullah, this then begs the question: what is happening to Muslims who do not have the access and visibility that the mayor has?” asked Selaedin Maksut, the executive director of the New Jersey chapter of CAIR who called the incident “wholly unacceptable and insulting.”
Our New Jersey chapter @CAIRNJ said Prospect Park @MayorKhairullah learned on his way to the White House Monday for the annual #EidAlFitr event that his invitation had been revoked. @NJAdvanceMedia @njdotcom https://t.co/2UDL2tvUgo
— CAIR National (@CAIRNational) May 2, 2023
“The group has called on the Biden administration to cease the FBI’s dissemination of information from what is known as a Terrorist Screening Data Set that includes hundreds of thousands of individuals. The group informed Khairullah that a person with his name and birthdate was in a dataset that CAIR attorneys obtained in 2019,” AP reported.
Unfortunately, the mayor missed Biden slurring his way through a speech to those in attendance, including a shout-out to Somali-born Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) whom he gushed over.
BIDEN: "Where are you, Congressman Omar? There you go, God love you. I'll get in trouble for saying this, but you look beautiful tonight" pic.twitter.com/KY4mLZBiQC
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) May 1, 2023
“We’re determined to confront all forms of hate, including Islamophobia, which is important to me,” Biden said during his remarks. “This is a priority for my administration, which is why I established an interagency task force to address attacks on Muslims and anti-Muslim bias and discrimination.”
It isn’t the first time that Mayor Khairullah has been inconvenienced. In 2019 he was stopped and interrogated at New York’s JFK International Airport for three hours by authorities who asked him whether he had any associations with terrorists as he returned from a visit to Turkey with his family. He was also briefly detained when he was returning to the U.S. from Canada.
“It’s disappointing and it’s shocking that this continues to happen under our Constitution which provides that everyone is innocent unless proven guilty. I honestly don’t know what my charge, if you want to put it that way, is at this point, to be treated in such a manner,” Khairullah said.
“I think right now my crime is my name,” the mayor added.
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