The White House did not host a traditional Iftar dinner to commemorate Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, for the first time in nearly two decades, a media report said on Monday. Despite events held by previous administrations, this year’s Ramadan passed nearly unobserved by the White House. It was marked only by a statement published late Saturday coinciding with the end of the holy month, reports the Guardian. The first White House Iftar dinner was hosted by President Thomas Jefferson in 1805.
Hillary Clinton resurrected the event when she was First Lady in February 1996, hosting about 150 people for a reception for Eid-ul-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month. The sunset dinner, attended by legislators, diplomats and leaders within the US Muslim community, went on to become an annual tradition from 1999, observed by the past three administrations.
George W. Bush held an Iftar dinner every year of his two terms, including just after the September 2001 terror attacks. President Barack Obama hosted his first Ramadan dinner in 2009 and subsequently every year of his Presidency. The Washington Post reported that Saturday’s White House statement was signed by Donald and Melania Trump and was not posted to the President’s social media presences. It read: “Muslims in the US joined those around the world during the holy month of Ramadan to focus on acts of faith and charity.
“Now, as they commemorate Eid with family and friends, they carry on the tradition of helping neighbours and breaking bread with people from all walks of life. During this holiday, we are reminded of the importance of mercy, compassion and goodwill. With Muslims around the world, the US renews our commitment to honour these values. Eid Mubarak.”
Last year, then Presidential candidate Trump told an ABC News interview that he would be open to continuing the tradition of hosting the dinner if he were in the White House. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also broke with tradition by not hosting an Iftar dinner at the State Department.