Trump breaks White House iftar tradition dating back to 1805

Published 25.06.2017 16:39
Updated 25.06.2017 16:48
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U.S. President Donald Trump did not hold an iftar event at the White House to celebrate the end of Ramadan, defying a tradition that began over 200 years ago.

The first iftar at the White House was held in 1805, when Thomas Jefferson hosted the first Muslim ambassador to the U.S.

Iftars have become a yearly occurrence at the White House since the Bill Clinton administration.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly rejected a request from his department's office of religion and global affairs to hold a Ramadan (Eid al-Fitr) event.

President Trump's statement on the eve of Eid al-Fitr was, "On behalf of the American people, Melania and I send our warm greetings to Muslims as they celebrate Eid al-Fitr. During this holiday, we are reminded of the importance of mercy, compassion, and goodwill. With Muslims around the world, the United States renews our commitment to honor these values."

After rhetoric on the campaign trail that was criticized for being overtly anti-Islamic, Trump softened his tone during a visit to Saudi Arabia last month, abandoning the idea of conflict between religions to present this as a war on terror instead.

Commentators noted the contrast with former President Barack Obama's message on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, which warned against the "rise in attacks against Muslim Americans," adding that "Muslim Americans have been part of our American family since its founding."

American Muslims had been hoping that an iftar event at the White House would be a symbolic moment of reconciliation with the Muslim community, which is experiencing the highest level of hate crimes since the Twin Towers attack in 2001.

Historians note that the first Muslims arrived in North America in the 17th century, coming from West Africa and eventually making up more than 15 percent of the slaves in British America. Middle Eastern Muslims first began to arrive in the late 19th century.

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