SPRINGFIELD – Governor Pat Quinn was joined by more than 100 Illinois Muslim American community leaders Wednesday evening to observe Ramadan with a traditional “Iftar” meal at the Executive Mansion. Governor Quinn inaugurated the custom in 2013 as part of his agenda to make Illinois the most welcoming state in the nation.
“The sacred month of Ramadan is a time of fasting, sacrifice and reflection and I’m honored to participate in this special occasion,” Governor Quinn said. “With more than 500,000 members, Illinois’ Muslim American community is rich in its diversity and Ramadan reminds us that our common bonds far outweigh our differences.”
In 1805, Thomas Jefferson was the first U.S. President to observe Ramadan in the White House with a sunset dinner for Sidi Soliman Mellimelli, a Tunisian who was the first Muslim envoy to the United States. Presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama have all hosted Iftar meals in the White House.
The menu for Governor Quinn’s Iftar featured halal lamb kabuli palau, mantoo (beef dumplings), dates, baklava (a honeyed pastry) and tea.
The Governor has strived to make Illinois the most welcoming state in the nation. This year, he approved plans to establish the first health care facility in the nation to meet the needs of Muslim American patients. He has also signed legislation to ensure that Muslim college students are not penalized for missing an exam on Muslim holy days. In addition, the Governor announced the creation of the first-of-its-kind council in 2011 to advise appropriate policy developments and other issues of significance impacting Illinois’ Muslims.
The diversity of Illinois’ Muslim American community is reflected in the Governor’s Muslim American Advisory Council. Appointees of the council – who serve with no compensation – represent many ethnicities and national origins, speak many different languages and represent a wide variety of professions. Governor Quinn today received the recommendations of his Muslim American Advisory Council’s third semiannual report.
The Council commended Governor Quinn for his efforts to increase Muslim American participation in the state workforce and foster greater cultural sensitivity by state employees, as well as for his condemnation of attacks on Illinois Muslim centers.
To learn more about Iftar and Governor Quinn’s Muslim American Advisory Council, see: muslimamerican.illinois.gov.