Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and André Carson (D-Ind.) will attend President Barack Obama’s White House iftar on Wednesday evening, the daily meal when Muslims break their fasts during the holy month of Ramadan.
The dinner will take place after sunset, in observance of Islamic custom.
Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, attended the White House iftar for the first time in 2007, when it was hosted by President George W. Bush.
“My favorite iftars are the ones with my family, but I also think that in a country with such diversity, there has been a tradition to honor all faiths, including Muslims,” Ellison said. “I recognize our constitutional separation of church and state, but at the same time, there’s nothing wrong with a holiday message or a holiday dinner.”
Carson, also Muslim, attended the White House dinner last year and said that although he enjoyed Bush’s iftar dinners in the past, he thinks Obama’s dinners have been more welcoming.
“I think President Obama’s approach is different, given his worldview and given his multicultural background. He recognizes that Muslims are an important constituency,” Carson said. “I think we’re moving in a better place … under leadership that is visionary enough not to ostracize.”