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Donald Trump hosting first Iftar dinner in observance of Ramadan

07 June 2018

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSix takeaways from 2018's Super Tuesday Dem Andrew Janz advances in bid to unseat Nunes Montana GOP candidate Rosendale to take on Tester in November MORE on Wednesday hosted his first iftar dinner to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Among those in attendance were the ambassadors from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Tunisia, Kuwait, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Indonesia.

Last year, Trump broke with decades of precedent by forgoing the annual Iftar dinner - a bipartisan tradition that formally began with Bill Clinton in the 1990s but has conceptual roots tracing as far back as under Thomas Jefferson in 1805.

Leading Muslim groups in Washington who attended the event under previous administrations said Trump's continued targeting of Islam and its followers made engagement with his administration a futile, if not impossible task.

Several American Muslim groups said they would not participate in Wednesday's iftar.

Iftar dinners have been a regular feature on the White House calendar, along with prayer breakfasts, Passover Seders and similar events.

But he urged the administration "to actively engage on issues impacting our beneficiaries", including the travel ban and proposed cuts to social welfare programs.

Donald Trump, during the 2016 campaign, called for a complete ban on Muslims entering the United States and has signed multiple executive orders restricting immigration from Muslim-majority countries. Last year, he drew worldwide criticism for retweeting anti-Muslim videos posted by a far-right group in Britain. And his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital was seen by many critics as an unnecessary provocation in the Muslim world.

The White House has defended Trump's policies as necessary for national security.

"Tonight as we enjoy a magnificent dinner at the White House, let us strive to embody the grace and goodwill that mark the Ramadan season", Trump told attendees. Ramazan ends with the Islamic holiday of Eid-al-Fitr.

"Ramadan reminds us of the richness Muslims add to the religious tapestry of American life", the statement said.

In one of his first acts from the Oval Office, Trump imposed a travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries and indefinitely suspended the U.S. refugee program. It also affects two non-Muslim countries, blocking travelers from North Korea and some Venezuelan government officials and their families.

Donald Trump hosting first Iftar dinner in observance of Ramadan