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Secret Service says it turned away Muslim NJ mayor from WH Eid reception

May 2, 2023

The United States Secret Service on Monday said it turned away the Muslim mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, ahead of the Eid reception at the White House.

Mayor Mohamed T. Khairullah was not permitted to attend Monday’s Eid reception despite an invitation to the East Room ceremony after his clearance for entry was not approved by Secret Service, the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ New Jersey chapter told CNN in a statement.

“While we regret any inconvenience this may have caused, the mayor was not allowed to enter the White House complex this evening,” USSS chief of communications told reporters in a statement later Monday evening. “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.”

The White House referred all questions on the incident to USSS.

Khairullah told CNN that he submitted his information to the White House Worker and Visa Entry System two days ago, but was only notified that he wouldn’t be allowed to enter the White House a half hour before he was set to arrive on Monday.

Normal procedure for guests invited to the White House is that once a guest receives an invitation, they must submit information to the Secret Service via WAVES after which the Secret Service makes the final decision on whether the guest is cleared for entry into the White House.

A staffer from the White House social office called Khairullah, but did not offer an explanation on the decision, the mayor told CNN.

In a statement, CAIR-New Jersey called the move “an affront to the Muslim community.”

“That a well-respected Muslim leader would effectively be disinvited from the White House Eid celebration, just hours ahead of time, is wholly unacceptable and insulting,” Selaedin Maksut, CAIR New Jersey’s executive director, said.

In his remarks Monday, President Joe Biden celebrated the contributions of elected Muslim officials, telling the group gathered in the White House East Room, “I want all the elected officials here who serve in city, county, and state governments across the nation– I want to compliment you. So many of you are the first Muslims ever to hold the positions you hold.” (CNN)

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