Prime minister Rishi Sunak not at Eid party boycotted by guests over Gaza

The prime minister did not attend an Eid party at Downing Street that several invitees shunned over the government’s support of Israel. Rishi Sunak had been due to host the annual event and said he was “looking forward” to hosting Muslim figures.

However, his office said he had parliamentary business to attend to – he was making a statement on Iran in the House of Commons. About half of the usual number attended the reception.

Earlier, foreign secretary David Cameron had publicly urged people to go to the event.It was said by those attending that the gathering was “about half the size as normal with around 50 people there” – and they were “surprised” Mr Sunak did not attend. The event is held every year, and the prime minister has always hosted it.

In a statement issued by Downing Street on Sunday, a spokesperson said Mr Sunak “looks forward to welcoming members of the Muslim community”.

Guests were instead greeted by deputy foreign secretary Andrew Mitchell.Some of the guests said they had “toyed over” whether to go. Many said they spoke to family over the weekend to decide whether it was the right thing to attend.

One woman said she did not want to miss out on being invited to Downing Street for the first time but wanted to make it clear the situation in Gaza “has not been forgotten”.

Another said he had been to the event for years, and “thought about it, thought what it was about. And what I thought was ‘Downing Street is marking Eid, and it is a celebration I believe in'”.

“So I came. I understand why so many boycotted – but for me the right thing was to come,” he said.

Guests leaving the event said they saw “no MPsI saw parliamentary candidates, but no MPs. They may have been there but I didn’t see them.”

The tranche of no-shows represent what is thought to be the first significant boycott of its kind at a Downing Street event. It follows a similar boycott of an annual Iftar at the White House earlier this month by American Muslims angry at US support for Israel.

Source: BBC

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Rishi Sunak has called on “all sides” to “show restraint” after Iran’s attack on Israel on Saturday. The PM said he would speak to his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu to express solidarity and also discuss how to prevent “further escalation”. Mr Sunak told MPs Iran’s actions had been “reckless and dangerous”.

Rishi Sunak

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