Trump Broke Tradition By Foregoing Annual White House Eid Al-Fitr Celebration
By foregoing the annual dinner, the Trump White House broke with a tradition upheld by the past three administrations.
The Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan, arrived Saturday without a celebration at the White House, ending a presidential tradition going back at least 20 years.
President Donald Trump and the First Lady did issue a statement Saturday marking the end of Ramadan, but did not host an event at the White House to mark the religious holiday.
Instead, the couple attended the wedding of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to Scottish actress Louis Linton, according to White House pool reports.
"Muslims in the United States joined those around the world during the holy month of Ramadan to focus on acts of faith and charity," Trump's statement read. "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 decision not to host an Eid celebration was not a big surprise considering that no invitations had gone out to Muslim leaders in the weeks leading up to the holiday. Still, people across the country still took notice of the administration's decision.
The tradition of hosting an annual iftar dinner to celebrate Eid al-Fitr at the White House dates back to the Clinton administration, which first hosted the event in 1996. Both the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama continued to host the event, inviting Muslim diplomats and prominent members of the Muslim-American community to the White House for the holiday.
The first White House iftar was held by Thomas Jefferson in 1805 when he invited an ambassador from Tunis to the White House.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also broke with decades of tradition this year by rejecting a request to host an Eid-al-Fitr reception. The State Department issued its own statement Saturday marking the holiday.
"On behalf of the U.S. Department of State, best wishes to all Muslims celebrating Eid al-Fitr," the statement read. "This day offers an opportunity to reflect on our shared commitment to building peaceful and prosperous communities."
Even if the Trump White House had decided to host an event Saturday, Muslim leaders have noted that it may have been difficult to find attendees. The president and his administration have repeatedly angered and alienated Muslims, most notably with their attempts to establish a travel ban targeting majority-Muslim countries.
And in a May statement marking the beginning of Ramadan, Trump made several references to terrorism.
"While I was honored to attend White House Iftar hosted by Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama, I can't imagine attending an Iftar hosted by Donald Trump," Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim elected to congress, said in a recent statement to BuzzFeed News. "I have not seen any evidence of good will toward the Muslim world from him. I have only seen a steady stream of contempt and hostility."
The White House did not respond to BuzzFeed News requests for comment about the decision not to host the dinner Saturday.