In hosting his first iftar dinner at the White House on Wednesday, President Donald Trump said to his guests “and to Muslims around the world, Ramadan Mubarak,” observing the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“At tonight’s dinner, we especially are pleased to welcome members of the diplomatic corps, representing our friends and partners across the globe,” Trump said. “And a very warm welcome to all the ambassadors here tonight, representing Muslim-majority nations. We’re greatly honored by your presence, and thank you very much for being here.”
He said the gathering honored “a sacred tradition of one of the world’s great religions.”
Trump did not host an iftar dinner last year, breaking a tradition started by the Clinton administration and maintained through the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump called for a complete ban on all Muslims entering the United States and has signed multiple executive orders restricting immigration from Muslim-majority countries.
During Ramadan, observers abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset. The iftar dinner is traditionally held at sundown, breaking the fast.
‘There is great love’
“Iftars mark the coming together of families and friends to celebrate a timeless message of peace, clarity and love. There is great love,” Trump said at Wednesday night’s event. “It’s a moment to call upon our highest ideals, and to give thanks for the many blessings we enjoy. Thank you very much. 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.”
The event was held in the White House State Dining Room, with 30 to 40 guests in attendance. The White House did not release a list of the attendees, but photos tweeted by reporters in attendance showed that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was among those at the dinner.
U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Dawud Abdul-Aziz Agbere of the Chaplain Corps led the call to prayer in the East Room.
The event is typically attended by diplomats and leaders of the American Muslim community.
Several American Muslim groups said they would boycott the event, and a protest of the dinner was held Wednesday night at Lafayette Square.
“I wouldn’t anticipate that any credible mainstream American Muslim organizations or leaders would be invited or agree to attend, given the administration’s Islamophobic and white supremacist positions and policies,” Ibrahim Hooper, Council on American Islamic Relations spokesman, told The Guardian. VOA