Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Islamic Relief Hosts Capitol Hill Eid Luncheon

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Islamic Relief Hosts Capitol Hill Eid Luncheon

Article excerpt

Islamic Relief USA's chief executive officer, Anwar Ahmad Khan, welcomed a room packed full of American Muslims and supporters to an Eid luncheon at the Rayburn House building on Capitol Hill on June 27 to celebrate the end of Ramadan. The luncheon, Islamic Relief's 7th annual celebration, attracted 25 honorary co-hosts and 14 letters of endorsement. Khan described Islamic Relief's vital work around the world, including in South Sudan, where people were eating grass until his organization stepped in to help. "It's our job, as members of the human race, to help," Khan noted. "Our faith urges us to feed the needy." He reminded listeners that a video of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sharing an iftar meal with Muslims went viral, with six million downloads in one day. Khan was too polite and studiously non-partisan to belabor the fact that the current U.S. president broke with a 20-year tradition by not hosting a White House iftar.

Ambassador Tony Hall, executive director emeritus of the Alliance to End Hunger, said that Islamic Relief is working to end hunger in America as well as in the war-ravaged Middle East. The selfless acts of faith-based communities can't be sustained without political will, he warned, adding that the U.S. budget, which cuts programs for the poor, troubles him. "Our budget is a moral document that paints a picture of who we are," Hall said. "It's a troubling narrative when we only focus on countries strategic to America." He urged listeners to "Take back our narrative. Revive our nation's spirit of compassion. Help those in need...We need to scream or these cuts will survive."

Maxine Waters (D-CA) described Islamic Relief's work fighting hunger and despair, including distributing food to nearly 400,000 people in 31 countries in 2016. Last year the organization's Disaster Response Team delivered water and hygiene kits to victims of Hurricane Matthew in North Carolina. …

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