President Trump made a statement — literally — as his White House became the first in nearly 20 years not to host an annual iftar dinner celebrating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
In lieu of the festivities hosted throughout the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations, the President and First Lady released a statement Saturday sending “warm greetings to Muslims as they celebrate Eid al-Fitr,” the day marking the end of Ramadan.
“Muslims in the United States 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 neighbors and breaking bread with people from all walks of life,” the President said.
“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.”
The statement closed with “Eid Mubarak,” a traditional greeting that means “blessed celebration.”
Former President Barack Obama speaks during an iftar meal in 2010.
(NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Third U.S. President Thomas Jefferson in 1805 held the first White House iftar — an after-sunset meal to break the fast — for a visiting Muslim envoy from Tunisia.
The observance made a comeback almost 200 years later, when then-First Lady Hillary Clinton in 1996 threw an Eid al-Fitr reception for about 150 people.
Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama also hosted the annual dinners throughout their eight years in the Oval Office.
The State Department, too, skipped its annual celebration this year — with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson instead issuing a brief statement Friday marking the occasion.
President George W. Bush speaks during a 2007 iftar meal.
“This holiday marks the culmination of Ramadan, a month in which many experience meaning and inspiration in acts of fasting, prayer, and charity,” he said. “This day offers an opportunity to reflect on our shared commitment to building peaceful and prosperous communities. Eid Mubarak.”
Trump’s relationship with the Muslim community got off to a rocky start with his liberal use of the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” and now-infamous call for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” following the 2015 San Bernardino terror attack.
As President, he has issued two different court-stalled immigration bans targeting a handful of majority-Muslim nations.
Trump drew praise for his markedly more measured tone during a speech last month to Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia — but came under fresh scrutiny days later with a beginning-of-Ramadan statement that made multiple references to terrorism.
“America will always stand with our partners against terrorism and the ideology that fuels it,” he said. “During this month of Ramadan, let us be resolved to spare no measure so that we may ensure that future generations will be free of this scourge and able to worship and commune in peace.”