Trump hosts first iftar dinner

Trump hosts first iftar dinner

Several Muslim organisations chose to boycott US President Donald Trump's first Iftar dinner at the White House, citing his alleged anti-Muslim rhetoric.

During the dinner, Trump extolled the virtues of Ramadan and called for cooperation in the Middle East.

US President Barack Obama speaks as he hosts an Iftar dinner in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington on July 14, 2014.

He said the gathering honored "a sacred tradition of one of the world's great religions".

Trump, who has frequently engaged in inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric, in a statement last month, sent his greetings and best wishes to all Muslims observing Ramazan in the United States and around the world.

As the event unfolded, several journalists on Twitter pointed that none of the invitees appeared to be American Muslims except for the imam leading the prayer.

"We are hoping to share Ramadan and iftar with the American people and point out the hypocrisy", Robert Stephen McCaw, director of government affairs at the Council of American-Islamic Relations, said outside the White House.

Envoys from several Muslim countries including the UAE, Egypt, Tunisia, Qatar, Bahrain, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Kuwait, Gambia, Ethiopia, Iraq, and Bosnia were invited.

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He recalled his visit past year to Saudi Arabia - his first foreign trip - as "one of the great two days of my life".

"Only by working together can we achieve a future of prosperity and security for all", he said. The White House iftar meal doesn't come on a specific day of Ramadan, although the scheduled iftar on Wednesday comes a week and one day before Eid al-Fitr, the official end to Ramadan.

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.

Many of them announced that they would hold a parallel Iftar dinner outside the White House.

Shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President George W Bush hosted ambassadors and diplomats in celebration of Ramadan, declaring "evil has no holy days".

A year ago when Trump opted against hosting an iftar dinner, he was also under fire as the American Muslim community had grown accustomed to attending dinners under previous administrations, including presidents Barack Obama and George W Bush.

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

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