Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has declined a request to host an event to note the holiest month in the Muslim calendar -- Ramadan. A bipartisan tradition started in 1999 in which Secretaries of State would host either an iftar dinner to break the fast of the day for Ramadan or a “reception marking the Eid al-Fitr holiday” at the State Department.
An April 6 memo from the State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs office recommended that Tillerson should hold a reception. However, he turned down the request. A State Department spokesperson told Reuters “We are still exploring possible options for observance of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the month of Ramadan. U.S. ambassadors are encouraged to celebrate Ramadan through a variety of activities, which are held annually at missions around the world.” The tradition of a dinner hosted by the Secretary of State goes back to 1999.
Progressives, Democrats, and some Muslims have accused the Trump administration of unfriendliness toward Islam. The administration, however, says it has no quarrel with Islam even while it strongly opposes Muslim terror. On Monday, Trump visited Saudi Arabia and then addressed the leaders of 50 Muslim countries. This fact was cited by administration officials as proof that Trump is not hostile to Muslim people.
In the past members of the Muslim community, diplomats from Muslim countries, Members of Congress, and senior government officials usually attend the Ramadan celebration at the State Department. An iftar is a sumptuous meal that occurs in the evening after a day of abstaining from food and water.