President Thomas Jefferson hosted the first ever Iftar dinner in the White House to mark the holy month of fasting for those who follow Islam. This was in 1805. More recently, in 1996, Hillary Clinton revived the tradition when she was First Lady. And ever since, the White House has hosted a formal Eid al-Fitr dinner that has served as a simple yet effective way for the White House incumbent to demonstrate his respect for Islam and the nation's tolerance for other religions. However, this iftar dinner has not been hosted this year.
Underlines Trump's Anti- Muslim stance
While this may not outwardly seem to be big news, the issue assumes great importance because President Trump is seen as an anti- Muslim leader. His comments on Islamic terrorists both during the campaign and since have only served to cement this image of him in the public eye. The decision to ignore a 20-year-old tradition showing solidarity with the religion has only deepened the chasm between the Muslims in the U.S. and the rest of the world and Trump's administration.
White House issues statement about Eid
Although the White House dinner was not held, a statement was issued about the Eid celebrations and how Americans stand with their Muslim brothers on the occasion. However, this statement was not posted to the President's social media pages. This is perhaps indicative of the President's refusal to acknowledge the Islamic celebration that is of quite some religious significance.
Earlier this month, Muslim activists had taken out a public protest against what they perceive as Trump's divisive policies against followers of Islam. The President's travel-ban against people from Islamic countries sparked off the strong feeling among many Americans, Muslims and otherwise that he has no sympathies for people following this religion and the failure to hold the iftar dinner has only made things worse in this respect. The protestors prayed and broke fast right outside Trump Tower, the business HQ of President Trump.
However, the State Department has made it clear that it is all for American government officials to participate in such events to show solidarity with Muslims across the country. It has said that U.S. ambassadors are being asked to take part is all Ramadan related events that are being held in various parts of the world.