US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has declined to host an event commemorating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, an apparent break from a nearly two-decades long bipartisan tradition, according to administration officials. The officials told CNN on Saturday said Tillerson rejected a request by the State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs to host a reception marking the Eid ul-Fitr, the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
The reason behind Tillerson’s decision remains unclear.
Since 1999, Tillerson’s five Republican and Democratic predecessors have hosted either an Iftar dinner to break the fast during Ramadan, or an Eid ul-Fitr reception at the end of the month-long holiday.
Many diplomatic posts overseas also host events during Ramadan’s month of fasting and prayer.
“We are still exploring possible options for observance of Eid ul-Fitr, which marks the end of the month of Ramadan,” CNN quoted a State Department spokesman as saying.
“US ambassadors are encouraged to celebrate Ramadan through a variety of activities, which are held annually at missions around the world.”
On Friday, Tillerson issued a statement marking the start of Ramadan, calling the holiday “”a month of reverence, generosity, and self-reflection.”
“Most importantly, it is a cherished time for family and friends to gather and give charity to those who are less fortunate. This time reminds us all of the common values of harmony and empathy we hold dear,” he added.