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Muslim mayor from New Jersey turned away from White House Eid event

Mohamed Khairullah, the mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, was not allowed onto the White House grounds on Monday night for the annual Eid celebration to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Khairullah, the longest-serving Muslim mayor in New Jersey, told CBS News that he received a phone call around 2 p.m. from the White House telling him that his clearance was denied by the Secret Service and he would not be allowed to attend the event hosted by President Biden. A spokesman for the Secret Service confirmed that Khairullah was denied entry but declined to offer further details.

"It's disappointing and it's shocking that this continues to happen under our Constitution which provides that everyone is innocent unless proven guilty. I honestly don't know what my charge, if you want to put it that way, is at this point, to be treated in such a manner," Khairullah told

Khairullah told the outlet that he has been profiled before, and when he tried to find out why he had been flagged, federal agencies would not provide any information.

"I think right now my crime is my name," he said.

Prospect Park Mayor Mohamed Khairullah speaks in support of Palestinians in New Jersey on May 16, 2021.
Prospect Park Mayor Mohamed Khairullah speaks in support of Palestinians in New Jersey on May 16, 2021. Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement on Monday night calling the episode "wholly unacceptable and insulting." 

"Only months ago, Khairullah was praised by elected officials across the state as one of the longest serving Muslim mayors in the country, and the longest in New Jersey," CAIR said in the statement. "Today, in an affront to the Muslim community and the American public at large, and in what could be perceived as a continued use of the secret watchlist, the Secret Service denied Mayor Khairullah entry, on the basis that he was not cleared by security." 

CAIR said Khairullah had helped the New Jersey Democratic Party compile a list of local Muslim leaders who could be invited. 

Prospect Park is located in northern New Jersey and has a population of about 6,000. Khairullah has been mayor for 17 years. 

According to The Associated Press, Khairullah was born in Syria. His family was displaced during Hafez al-Assad's crackdowns in the 1980s, and they eventually fled from Saudi Arabia. 

He became a U.S. citizen in 2000 and was elected to his first term as the town's mayor in 2001. He also spent 14 years as a volunteer firefighter in his community.

Elaine Quijano and Sara Cook contributed reporting.

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