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Muslim Leader's Exclusion From White House Event Called "Wholly Unacceptable"

The Secret Service declined to give specifics on their decision, prompting concerns about discrimination against American-Muslims.

An Indian man set himself on fire in front of the White House
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The US Secret Service said it blocked a Muslim mayor from Prospect Park, New Jersey, from attending a White House celebration with President Joe Biden to belatedly mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Shortly before Mayor Mohamed Khairullah was set to arrive at the White House for the Eid-al-Fitr celebration, he received a call from the White House stating that he had not been cleared for entry by the Secret Service and could not attend the celebration where Biden delivered remarks to hundreds of guests, according to the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

US Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi confirmed that Khairullah was not allowed into the White House complex, but declined to detail why. Khairullah was elected to a fifth term as the borough's mayor in January. “While we regret any inconvenience this may have caused, the mayor was not allowed to enter the White House complex this evening,” 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.” Selaedin Maksut, CAIR-NJ executive director, called the move “wholly unacceptable and insulting.”

"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?” Maksut said. Khairullah, who has previously done humanitarian work in Syria and Bangladesh, was previously stopped by authorities and interrogated at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York for three hours and questioned about whether he knew any terrorists, according to Dina Sayedahmed, a spokesman for CAIR-NJ. The group said Khairullah helped the New Jersey Democratic Party compile names of local Muslim leaders to invite to the White House Eid celebration and over the weekend was a guest at an event at the New Jersey governor's mansion. The White House declined to comment.

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