WASHINGTON — Breaking with recent White House tradition, President Donald Trump has opted not to host an event marking Islam’s holy month of Ramadan.
Past presidents have welcomed Muslim Americans for a traditional iftar, a meal that follows daily fasting from dawn to sunset. Ramadan ends with the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which was celebrated Sunday in most Muslim countries.
Trump issued a statement Saturday, saying that he and wife Melania “send our warm greetings to Muslims as they celebrate Eid al-Fitr.” The White House said there were no plans for an event. Asked Monday why Trump was not hosting an event, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said he did not know.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also declined to hold an iftar, in departure from the practice of previous secretaries, although Tillerson did release a written statement marking the occasion.
The decision was a shift from recent administrations. Last year, President Barack Obama hosted a reception commemorating the holy month after it ended. In his remarks, he said that discriminating against Muslim Americans “feeds the lie” that the West is at war with their religion.
Trump, who has initiated a crackdown on illegal immigration, has called for a temporary ban on people entering the U.S. from six Muslim-majority countries. The Supreme Court is allowing the administration to go forward with a limited version of its ban and will hear full arguments on the case in October.
The president casts the travel ban as critical to deterring possible terrorist attacks in the United States. Opponents say it targets Muslims in violation of federal law and the Constitution.