Trump is set to hold his first Ramadan dinner after breaking decades of tradition by deciding not to host the Muslim event last year

President Donald Trump will host an Iftar dinner on Wednesday at the White House, in celebration of Ramadan, an official said. 

Throughout the entire Muslim holy month of Ramadan, those who follow the religion fast from dawn to dusk, breaking the fast with a meal referred to as an Iftar.

'[T]hose observing Ramadan can strengthen our communities, help those in need, and serve as good examples for how to live a holy life,' Trump said in a statement released on May 15. 

This comes after Trump broke decades of tradition by failing to host a Ramadan dinner at the White House in 2017, and while the US Supreme Court is reviewing the third version of his travel ban for 'anti-Muslim intent.'

Each of former presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton held Iftar dinners during their presidencies.

Obama noted during his presidency that 'Muslim Americans have been part of our American family since its founding,' as reported by the Independent.

The tradition of hosting a White House Iftar dates back to at least December 1805. when former President Thomas Jefferson hosted Tunisian ambassador Sidi Soliman Mellimelli during the American conflict with what were known as the Barbary States.

'Dinner will be on the table precisely at sun-set,' the invitation read.

And diary entries by John Quincy Adams noted that dinner was served at a late hour as it was 'in the midst of Ramadan.'

Then-first lady Hillary Clinton, now former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, brought the tradition back in 1996. 

But in 2017, the Trump administration decided to forego the dinner, and issued only a statement on June 24.

'Muslims in the United States joined those around the world during the holy month of Ramadan to focus on acts of faith and charity," the statement read. 'Now, as they commemorate Eid with family and friends, they carry on the tradition of helping neighbors and breaking bread with people from all walks of life.

'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. Eid Mubarak.'

'Eid Mubarak' is a traditional Muslim phrase that can be translated as, 'have a blessed holiday.'

That phrase is used during the holy festivals of Eid al-fitr and Eid al-Adha, according to the Sun

Eid-al-Fitr follows the month of fasting for Ramadan, which ended last year on June 24. 

Eid celebrations continue for different lengths of time in different cultures.

This year, a dinner will accompany the statement signed by Trump, which started off by saying, 'I send my greetings and best wishes to all Muslims observing Ramadan in the United States and around the world.'

The statement ended with a different traditional Muslim salutation than it did in 2017, reading:

'As so many people unite to celebrate Ramadan, Melania and I join in the hope for a blessed month. Ramadan Mubarak.'

'Ramadan Mubarak' translates to wishing the recipient a 'blessed or generous Ramadan.' 

In the same statement, Trump said, 'Ramadan reminds us of the richness Muslims add to the religious tapestry of American life.' 

All of this messaging is in stark contrast to Trump's call during his presidential campaign for a 'total and complete' ban on all Muslims entering the country.

As president, Trump's controversial travel ban has actually restricted citizens from several mostly Muslim countries from entering the US. 

That travel ban, now in its third version, is under further review by the US Supreme Court, which has Tasmiha Khan thinking the timing of Trump's choice to host the Iftar dinner is a bit too cute.

'As the Supreme Court decides whether the Travel Ban is rooted in anti-Muslim bigotry, Trump decided to recognize Ramadan by issuing a statement acknowledging Muslims humanely,' Khan wrote in an opinion piece for Newsweek.

'This turn of events is hardly coincidental.' 

She added: 'At the end of April, the president declined to walk back or apologize for past biased remarks about Muslims. Now, we see a perfectly-timed attempt to dilute Trump's clear history of anti-Muslim bigotry by "connecting" with Muslims over an Iftar.

'It would be naive to view this apparent change of heart toward Muslim Americans as anything other than an attempt to divert attention from his previous anti-Muslim statements.' 

Khan detailed how Trump's rhetoric has had a tangible impact on Muslim communities. 

'President Trump’s anti-Muslim agenda extends beyond his attempts to enact a Muslim ban. The cabinet and West Wing are chock-full of officials who hold anti-Muslim views. This climate of fear and bigotry has resulted in a rise in hate crimes targeting Muslim Americans based on how they pray and the color of their skin,' she said. 

The Net Impact Racial Equity and Germanacos Interfaith Youth Core Fellow at Claremont Lincoln University's online graduate degree program based in California, where is pursuing her MA in Social Impact, noted what she thinks the president must do to properly address the things he's said and done, relating to American Muslims.

'While the White House’s possible Iftar is concerning, the Trump administration should withdraw his hateful statements and follow them up with apologies,' she said. 

'His actions should align with his words, and only then can there be connection with the local Muslim community.'

Ramadan ends on June 14 this year. The list of invitees to the White House Iftar taking place on June 6 has not been released.



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