Muslim opinion leaders invited to the White House's traditional Ramadan iftar dinner turned down the invitation because of the war in Gaza. Due to the lack of participation, the event was turned into a low-profile meeting.

Some guests had declined the invitation, emphasizing the disappointment in the Muslim community over Biden's policy towards Israel's attacks on Gaza.

Sources told Al Jazeera that some of those who had initially agreed to attend had backed out after a backlash from members of the Muslim community.

"The American Muslim community said very early on that it would be completely unacceptable for us to break bread with a White House that has enabled the Israeli government to starve and slaughter the Palestinian people in Gaza," said Edward Ahmed Mitchell, Deputy Director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).

After the large iftar was canceled, President Joe Biden, senior Muslim officials in his administration, First Lady Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband met with Muslim leaders before having a small dinner with them.

"President Biden will host a meeting with Muslim community leaders to discuss issues important to the community," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Tuesday, explaining that these leaders had opted for a meeting instead of dinner.

One of the attendees, Dr. Thaer Ahmad, an emergency room doctor who spent at least three weeks in Gaza, told CNN that he left before Tuesday's meeting was over.

"Out of respect for my community, out of respect for all the people who have suffered and been killed in this process, I had to leave the meeting," Ahmad said.

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Emgage Action, a Muslim American advocacy group, said Biden declined an invitation to Tuesday's dinner, citing his "continued unconditional military aid to Israel," which it said has led to a "humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions."

Meanwhile, Muslim and anti-war groups organized a protest iftar in Lafayette Park near the White House.