CALIFORNIA: Why are Muslims allowed to hold their religious celebrations inside the State Capitol building?


California state government officials seen praising CAIR (Council on Anti-American Islamic Relations) as Muslims in Sacramento ended Ramadan this year with a high profile Iftar (breaking of the fast) at the California State Capitol on August 6th. This follows a recent ‘Muslim Day’ also held at the Capitol.

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Two Circles  CAIR hosts “Capitol Iftar” as it is known every year, this being the 10th event of its kind at this venue. This event was held a bit late during Ramadan this year because the state legislature had been in recess for a while and just returned. On August 8th Eid-Ul-Fitr prayers were held at various locations in the Sacramento area but the focus points this time are the Downtown “V” Street Mosque and the large event held by the local SALAM organization at McClellan Park.

Mariko Yamada & Roger Dickinson at Capitol Iftar
Mariko Yamada & Roger Dickinson at Capitol Iftar

Sheikh Refaat began the formalities by reciting from the Holy Quran with a translation into English by Mohamed Ali. From the number of dignitaries present the head of the California State Senate Darrell Steinberg was the first to speak. A Jewish-American, Senator Steinberg reminded everyone that this event now in its 10th year was significant. He wished everyone a “Happy Ramadan” and praised the accomplishments of pluralistic societies, where we can all gather together in a beautiful building like this one and send a message out to the world that there is a better way forward.

CAIR-Sacramento Valley President Wazhma Mojaddidi spoke next and welcomed everyone. “Today more than ever we need organizations like CAIR,” she said. She elaborated on this need to widen our scope of understanding and the necessity of protecting the rights of all. It is important to point out here that CAIR is at the forefront of protecting the civil rights of Muslims in America but its work benefits all Americans!

Senator Darrell Steinberg (second from left) at Capitol Iftar
Senator Darrell Steinberg (second from left) at Capitol Iftar

Assemblymember Mariko Yamada was fasting on this day and shared some of that experience with this writer. In her short speech she gave full credit to (then) Assemblymember Judy Chu for helping to start this Capitol Iftar tradition 10 years ago at a time not too far after 9/11. She said in added solidarity, “Today we are all Muslims.” She praised the efforts of all who have made such an environment possible here in Sacramento and stressed the need to continue striving for the rights of all.

CAIR Capitol Ramadan Resolutions
CAIR Capitol Ramadan Resolutions

Ms. Yamada also reminded us that this Capitol Iftar was being held on the anniversary of the the dropping of the Atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Her message was very clear. Let us all actively strive for peace and understanding amongs all peoples and religions. The horrors of war, especially keeping Hiroshima and Nagasaki in mind, should remind us all of the need to pursue alternatives.


The list of speakers was included Betty Yee, Paul Fong and others as a resolution marking this 10th Capitol Iftar was presented to CAIR officials by members of the California Assembly and Senate. CAIR’s Basim Elkarra recognized and thanked quite a number of people (too many to be listed here) including members of the local interfaith community for their encouragement and participation. Imam Haazim Rashed closed the formalities with a special Dua as the Azan (Prayer Call) for breaking of the fast followed soon after. A fine Mediterranean dinner ended the evening.

Plenty of (barbarically-slaughtered) Halal food (from Biryani to Hot Dogs) were presented at this gathering.