Here’s an email sent by a non-Muslim friend, with identifying details changed.
‘The event was hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and held at the local Muslim Community Center. There was a brief welcome address, a recitation from the Koran, a speech by a really adorable little girl of about eleven, who explained about Ramadan and fasting and what it meant to her in very practical schoolgirl terms. Then there was a brief talk about Islamophobia, what it is and what to do about it. The speaker very quickly went over some of the more egregious examples of anti-Muslim statements that are being made in the US today, emphasizing the need for people to remain calm, and reach out to others, and provide engagement and education. This was followed by a panel discussion by three others; a representative of the Hindu community; a pastor from a Baptist church; and a rabbi from a reform Jewish synagogue.
And then it was sunset. We were served a snack of dates, watermelon, and something like an egg roll to break the fast and heard the call to prayer over the PA. The Muslims went to for the evening prayer (Maghreb) and others were invited to go and watch if we liked, or to go ahead and start dinner. They announced that this year the dinner would not be Middle-Eastern or South Asian as it was in previous years, but Indonesian. There was a sort of fried rice, chicken satay and a meat curry; there was also lasagna and salad and some sauteed vegetables. Our hosts made a point of telling us that there was vegetarian food provided. (Meanwhile we are secretly disappointed that there was no biryani!)
I’m glad I went; my friend and I were feeling bad that more non-Muslim Indians had not attended, there were just about five of us, although many had been invited and at least one other had said she was definitely coming. There were quite a few Jewish people, ACLU leaders, other members of the inter-faith community. I was delighted to see that my Democratic US Congressman was there, as was a staff member representing another Republican Congressman.
It was a relaxed and friendly social occasion, quite low-key, calm, and not tense, but there was an undercurrent of sadness. CAIR gave out little wallet-sized folded cards; they were entitled “Rights and Responsibilities of Muslim Americans” which included little tips for students on how to handle themselves in various situations. This broke my heart; the thought of little children having to carry these things in their pockets and learn how to deal with it when people insult their religion and call them names etc. WHY should children have to learn such things?!’