The White House’s “Eid-Ul-Fitr” Statement
The title of a statement from President Obama on the the White House website to congratulate Muslims for the conclusion of their 30-day fast seems very obscure. Here is what it says: “STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE OCCASION OF EID-UL-FITR.” Right, but why didn’t the White House just say “Ramadan,” which is how most non-Muslims recognize the religious celebration?
One could say that perhaps the White House wanted to be formal or polite — they wanted to be very specific in calling the holiday by its Arabic name. But, seriously if you’re not Muslim or speak Arabic, most of us wouldn’t know what the President is even talking about. Just take a look at this AP article aimed at Western audiences primarily, you would know what the article is about but just reading the title.
On the White House website, when I clicked the title, the statement seemed more like a Wikipedia entry about what “Eid-ul-Fitr” means than anything else:
Eid is a time to celebrate the completion of 30 days and nights of devotion. But even on this festive occasion, Muslims remember those less fortunate, including those impacted by poverty, hunger, conflict, and disease. Throughout the month, Muslim communities collect and distribute zakat-ul-fitr so that all Muslims are able to participate in this day of celebration.
Now, if the White House didn’t want to bring attention to Ramadan, they titled it just right, but as a non-Muslim, I would really like to know what I’m reading when I’m visiting the White House website. I respect and admire Muslims for their religious rite — fasting for 30 days is no joke. Last time I checked, Yom Kippur, was only a one-day fast.
OK, so different cultures have different ways of expressing their devotion to a Higher Power, a 30-day fast, a one-day fast, Lent, etc., but for god-sake (no pun intended), the title for this official statement from the White House was weak, I would have loved to have seen the title say: “STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE CONCLUSION OF RAMADAN.”
Perhaps the White House was afraid that making this statement too obvious would give the right wing more crazy reasons to point fingers at the president for his support of Muslims. You see, the right wing was OK with W. Bush’s all out hunt for Muslim after 9/11, and eight-years later the White House needs to be cautious with having the current President actually embrace Muslims and their culture in an open way.
I hope the statement on the White House’s website next year offers a title that actually invites non-Muslims to click on the link and be encouraged to learn more about Muslim culture and religion. This could be an opportunity to sharpen our understanding of what other fellow Americans practice with their families. Perhaps we can all learn a little more about remembering the less fortunate and praying for them.