'Ramadan Mubarak': Trump hosts first iftar dinner

Frederick Owens
June 7, 2018

President Trump is hosting his first Iftar dinner Wednesday night at the White House to mark one of the religious observances of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a gesture that was met with surprise and criticism among some U.S. Muslims. "That was one of the most fabulous times, and I think we accomplished a lot together".

Several Muslim civil rights groups pushed back, organising a "NOT Trump's Iftar" protest to be held in the evening at a park across from the White House.

The dinner comes as the Supreme Court considers legal challenges to Trump's travel ban, which critics say unfairly targets some Muslim-majority countries.

Speaking at an iftar dinner, which breaks the daylong fast, Trump offered a message of unity, recognizing members of the Muslim community at home and overseas.

Trump, who has frequently engaged in inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric, in a statement last month, sent his greetings and best wishes to all Muslims observing Ramazan in the United States and around the world.

"Let us pray for peace and justice and let us resolve that these values will guide us as we work together to build a bright and prosperous future that does honour and glory to God", he added.

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According to a pool report from the White House, attendees included Vice President Mike Pence, Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and a few other Cabinet members, as well as ambassadors from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Kuwait, Indonesia, Jordan, as well as representatives from Turkey and other Muslim-majority countries. "Tonight, we give thanks for the renewed bonds of friendship and cooperation we have forged with our valued partners from all across the Middle East". Now he wants to make nice and host an iftar dinner after skipping the tradition previous year.

Sharif Aly, CEO of Islamic Relief USA, a humanitarian and advocacy organization, said the group was glad to see the White House had reinstated the iftar, "an event that should be hosted every year, just like the Easter Egg Roll, the Passover Seder and Christmas Open House".

Even Republican and Trump-supporting Muslim groups were not invited.

He has also imposed a travel ban, targeting travellers from five countries with overwhelmingly Muslim populations - Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

Former presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton all held dinners to mark the breaking of the Ramadaan fast at the White House.

Millions of devout Muslims observe the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which is slated to end on Jun 14 this year.

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