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Monday, November 03, 2003

Tough Stuff: White House hosts Iftaar supper to break Ramadan fast

White House "tradition" since 2001


President George W. Bush hosts an Iftaar dinner celebrating Ramadan at the White House Monday, Oct. 28, 2003. "For Muslims in America, and around the world, this holy time is set aside for prayer and fasting," said President Bush. "It is also a good time for people of all faiths to reflect on the values we hold common -- love of family, gratitude to God, and a commitment to religious freedom."
Columnist Diana West:
I'd like to think President George W. Bush at least considered calling off his annual White House dinner with assorted Muslim luminaries to break this year's Ramadan fast. No other religious group -- not Jews, Catholics, Protestants or even Druids -- rates an official celebration like the Iftaar supper, a White House "tradition" since 2001. That was the year the United States first decided that "reaching out" to Muslims in the wake of Muslim terrorist attacks on the United States was a good idea. Three Ramadans later, a sense of dining entitlement has no doubt kicked in that's harder to buck than not.

After all, the president did host his Ramadan dinner. Believing (and having written) that this man is all that separates us from the Abyss, I'm pulling for Bush to succeed. At the same time, I'm also hoping he choked a little on his official remarks, at least on the part where he called on people of all faiths to reflect on "the values we hold common -- love of family, gratitude to God, and" -- insert Heimlich Maneuver here -- "a commitment to religious freedom."

Islam may have a lot of things -- love of family and gratitude to God, as the president said, along with jihad (holy war), dhimmitude (inferior status of non-Muslims), and a corner on the suicide bombing market -- but does it have "a commitment to religious freedom"? And that question stands even after excluding Al Qaeda, the Taliban and the entire royal family of Saudi Arabia.

Consider a report I first saw posted at www.robertspencer.org, a new Web site devoted to both jihad and dhimmitude: A slew of Christian converts from Islam have been arrested since Oct. 21 in Egypt -- our modern (moderate?) friend and recipient of billions in U.S. aid -- in a crackdown on "apostates."

According to the Barnabas Fund, a British watchdog group, as many as 22 Christian converts "have been taken from Alexandria to police stations in Cairo and are being beaten, interrogated and tortured." The charge? Falsifying identity papers. While it's not technically against the law in Egypt for Muslims to convert to Christianity -- as it is under the sharia law of, say, Iran, Sudan and Saudi Arabia -- it is illegal for any Egyptian to drop his Muslim name for a Christian name.
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