Muslim Prospect Park mayor questions White House watchlist after he’s barred from Eid event

Activists said that the situation was degrading and humiliating at a news conference held Tuesday.

Matt Trapani

May 2, 2023, 8:23 PM

Updated 448 days ago


The mayor of Prospect Park publicly commented for the first time about being barred from a White House ceremony. Mayor Mohamed Khairullah, who is a practicing Muslim, says that he was kept away from an event celebrating Eid al-Fitr with fellow members of the Muslim community.
Activists said that the situation was degrading and humiliating at a news conference held Tuesday. The mayor and the activists drew renewed attention to what they are calling a “selectee watch list.” They say that the mayor and 1.5 million people nationwide – mostly Muslim – are on it.
“I'm not upset for not being at the White House. I think the point here is, outside of me who has a platform, who I have friends who can bring you all together, there are 1.5 million entries that could be suffering similarly. I am about human rights. I am not about me,” Khairullah says.
Khairullah was driving to Washington D.C. on Monday and was about 30 minutes away from the White House when he received a call from White House officials telling him that the United States Secret Service could not clear him for the event with President Joe Biden.
A spokesperson for the Secret Service stated that the agency regrets the inconvenience but couldn't comment on why the mayor was denied.
Khairullah is Syrian American. He said he noticed an increased level of scrutiny following a 2015 trip to Syria that culminated in his being detained at JFK Airport for three hours in 2019. The mayor is now demanding answers and an apology.
Gov. Phil Murphy said on Tuesday that he is trying to get those answers. He declined to criticize the White House decision but pointed out that Khairullah was at the Governor’s Mansion on Saturday for a state celebration of Eid.
“What does it say to our Muslim community? God willing, I hope this is a misunderstanding. I hope it says nothing to our Muslim community. I assume that the White House was full of Muslim leaders from throughout the country. But [Mohamed Khairullah] is a great mayor, he’s a very close personal friend of mine,” Murphy said.
White House Press Secretary Karina Jean Pierre declined to elaborate on the situation and deferred questions to the Secret Service. She pointed out that there were 400 Muslim attendees with the president for Monday’s event.

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