The Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has broken the tradition for refusing to hold Ramadan event.
Since 1999, Republican and Democratic secretaries of state have nearly always hosted either an iftar dinner to break the day’s fast during Ramadan or a reception marking the Eid al-Fitr holiday at the end of the month, at the State Department.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright started the tradition of America’s top diplomat hosting a public event for Ramadan 18 years ago. The sitting secretary of state usually gives remarks on the meaning of the holy month.
Tillerson turned down a request from the State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs to host an Eid al-Fitr reception as part of Ramadan celebrations, said two U.S. officials who declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
Asked to comment on Mr. Tillerson declining to host an Eid reception in June, a State Department spokesman said: “We are still exploring possible options for observance of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the month of Ramadan.
“US ambassadors are encouraged to celebrate Ramadan through a variety of activities, which are held annually at missions around the world.”
Muslim activists are calling this move by Tillerson, “Islamaphobic”, but the Secretary of State who was appointed by President Trump rejects that notion. Mr. Trump’s administration has had a fraught relationship with Muslims. As a presidential candidate, the Republican urged a temporary ban on Muslims entering the US, called for more surveillance of mosques and warned that radical Muslims were “trying to take over our children”.
Tillerson did put out a statement marking the start of Ramadan.
“On behalf of the United States Department of State, Renda and I sincerely wish Muslims around the world a peaceful and blessed Ramadan,” Tillerson said. “Ramadan is a month of reverence, generosity, and self-reflection. Most importantly, it is a cherished time for family and friends to gather and give charity to those who are less fortunate. This time reminds us all of the common values of harmony and empathy we hold dear. I wish all those celebrating a very happy Ramadan Kareem.”
Mr. Trump’s administration has had a fraught relationship with Muslims. As a presidential candidate, the Republican urged a temporary ban on Muslims entering the US, called for more surveillance of mosques and warned that radical Muslims were “trying to take over our children”.
White House officials did not respond to a request for comment on whether they would continue the tradition this year of hosting a Ramadan-related event at the White House.