First White House Eid celebration draws some Minnesota applause

President Barack Obama is given a rose
President Barack Obama is given a rose by Sophia Ahmadinejad, 2, and her parents Zainab Ahmadinejad and Mohammad Hussein Ahmadinejad, right, while greeting guests at an Eid al-Fitr reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, July 21, 2016.
Pablo Martinez Monsivai | AP Photo

Just before the Republican National Convention came to a close Thursday night, hundreds of Muslims packed the White House for an evening of positive reflection about their community. They say it was a refreshing treat amid the rhetoric this election season has brought them.

President Barack Obama held the first-ever Eid reception and invited about 300 Muslims from across the country, including Minnesota, to celebrate the post-Ramadan holiday. Eid-Al-Fitr marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan and ended about two weeks ago.

Attendees chanted "four more years" as Obama highlighted the work of activists and praised Muslim veterans, firefighters and teachers.

Lori Saroya, a Minnesotan, was there. She said it was good to get people together at a time when the "message is so divisive and this promotion of fear."

Meanwhile, Donald Trump accepted the Republican nomination for president Thursday with the same promise to ban immigration and the same message linking immigrants to serious crime in America.

Saroya, director of chapter development at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, presented a letter to President Obama asking him to address civil right issues, particularly alleged racial profiling against Muslims by airport security.

"We still have a lot of work to do and he still has several months left in office," Saroya said. "There are still opportunities for him to take action and create policies that will help people and improve individuals and their livelihood."

CAIR officials say the number of hate crimes against Muslims climbed after 9/11 and dropped in the years after, but this year it's been unprecedented.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.