ING at White House Meetings

May 4, 2023

ING at the White House Eid Reception

President Biden with Imam Zia Makhdoom of MakeSpace DC

ING’s Founder Maha Elgenaidi joined over 300 Muslim Americans from across the country at a White House Eid reception on Monday, May 1st hosted by President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Second Gentleman Emhoff.

The annual tradition of celebrating Muslim holidays at the White House started in 1996 when First Lady Hillary Clinton hosted an Eid dinner. The tradition of hosting iftars (breaking of the Ramadan fast) or Eid dinners or receptions continued under Presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump and now Biden. 

In his personable style, President Biden on Monday recognized the contributions of Muslim Americans, and made personal references to notable Muslims in the room, including elected officials, Muslims in entertainment and sports, and ordinary Muslims who contribute to their communities in diverse ways. Read the President’s remarks here

Maha and ING board members have had the privilege of attending these events since the Bush administration.

ING at a White House Policy Meeting

Event with the four principals and members of the Muslim American team.

The following day, Maha joined Muslim American nonprofit leaders* at a White House Listening Session on Islamophobia hosted by Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, White House Domestic Policy Advisor Ambassador Susan Rice, Deputy Homeland Security Advisor Joshua Geltzer, and Office of Public Engagement Director Stephen Benjamin. The meeting was co-hosted by White House Liaison to American Muslim Communities Mazen Basrawi, and Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Rashad Hussain.

The Muslim team’s policy priorities included calls for a national strategy by the White House on combating Islamophobia, and ongoing engagement with the Domestic Policy Council.

In Maha’s comments during the session, she emphasized ING’s bullying prevention work in schools and other institutions. She began by saying, “…Islamophobia is pervasive where 8 out of 10 young American-born Muslims and women experience Islamophobia. This of course shows up in schools where 1 out 2 Muslim students suffers from bullying; twice the national average.” She described some of the common slurs as well as most egregious examples of students being bullied by both students and teachers. In Maha’s policy recommendations, she suggested raising awareness of current federal laws on bullying prevention and response and student and parental rights and accommodations by requiring training and school staff certification; and amending statues that protect student and parental rights by giving educators examples of religious accommodations.

Read her full comments here. View the White House readout of the session here.

*The Muslim leaders represented the following organizations in the listening session (listed in alphabetical order): America Indivisible; American Muslim Health Professionals (AMHP); Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-DC); El-Hibri Foundation; Emgage, Karamah Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights; Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU); Islamic Speakers Bureau Atlanta; Islamic Networks Group (ING), Muslim Advocates; Muslim Americans in Public Service (MAPS); Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (Muslim ARC); Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC); and Poligon Education Fund. These organizations are part of a larger 50 Muslim American group collaborative that was founded by the El-Hibri Foundation.

View pictures of both events here.