US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has declined a request to host an event to mark the Islamic holy and fasting month of Ramadan, according to reports. The move could break a bipartisan tradition that has been in place for nearly 20 years as the month of fasting and prayer for Muslims gets under way in many countries on Saturday.
Since 1999, Republican and Democratic secretaries of state have nearly always hosted either an Iftar dinner to break the day’s fast during Ramadan or a reception marking the Eid al-Fitr holiday at the end of the month, at the State Department. Tillerson turned down the request forwarded by the State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs to host an Eid al-Fitr reception as part of Ramadan celebrations.
The reports emerge days after U.S. President Donald Trump in his first official tour abroad visited the Muslim majority nation of Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, where he addressed the leaders of more than 50 Muslim countries. However, earlier Trump came under much fire for his attempts to ban citizens of several Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
Meanwhile, Tillerson issued a statement on Friday to mark the start of Ramadan, which he called “a month of reverence, generosity, and self-reflection.” President Trump also wished Muslims “a joyful Ramadan,” on Friday, urging them to use the holy month to reject violence by the extremists.