Breaking with tradition, the White House under President Donald Trump did not host an iftar dinner, the meal Muslims eat to break their daily fast during Ramadan.
The dinner, which has been often attended by prominent members of the U.S. Muslim community, began in 1996 during former President Bill Clinton’s White House tenure and continued through the subsequent Bush and Obama administrations.
But Trump and first lady Melania simply issued a brief statement Saturday that offered “warm greetings” to Muslims celebrating Eid al-Fitr, which marks the close of Ramadan, Islam’s holy month of fasting.
Trump’s decision to skip hosting the dinner comes after he released a controversial statement meant to mark the beginning of Ramadan. Many members of the Muslim community condemned the message, which largely focused on terrorism.
“This year, the holiday begins as the world mourns the innocent victims of barbaric terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom and Egypt, acts of depravity that are directly contrary to the spirit of Ramadan,” read a White House statement issued in May. “Such acts only steel our resolve to defeat the terrorists and their perverted ideology.”
Trump’s remarks starkly contrast with those by then-President Barack Obama during Ramadan last year. In June 2016, Obama and then-first lady Michelle announced plans to host an Eid celebration in the White House and praised American Muslims for their contributions to the U.S.
“Muslim Americans have been part of our American family since its founding,” the Obamas wrote in a statement roughly five times longer than Trump’s Ramadan message. “We look forward to welcoming Americans from around the country to celebrate the holiday.”
Secretary of states have also traditionally hosted Iftar dinners since 1999 ― but not this year. Trump’s top diplomat, Rex Tillerson, declined an invitation this year from the State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs to host an Eid al-Fitr celebration, according to CNN.