President Trump is hosting his first Iftar dinner Wednesday night at the White House to mark one of the religious observances of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a gesture that was met with surprise and criticism among some U.S. Muslims.
Mr. Trump hosted the dinner in the State Dining Room for the Washington diplomatic community, wishing approximately 50 guests a “very blessed Ramadan.”
The president offered thanks to the Muslim community, including ambassadors from Muslim-majority nations, as “valued partners around the globe.”
“Iftar marks coming together of family and friends to celebrate peace,” Mr. Trump said.
He also recalled his first foreign trip, to Saudi Arabia, calling it “one of the great two days of my life.”
“I was proud to make my first foreign trip to the heart of the Muslim world,” the president said.
Among those in attendance were the ambassadors from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Tunisia, Kuwait, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Indonesia.
The president didn’t hold an Iftar dinner last year, instead issuing a statement that discussed the threat of terrorism and the need to defeat terrorists’ “perverted ideology.”
This year’s event has been criticized by some Muslims and others who oppose the president’s policies such as the travel ban imposed on five predominantly Muslim countries, a national-security case which is being challenged in the Supreme Court, with a ruling expected soon.
Some Muslim civil rights groups organized a “NOT Trump’s Iftar” protest to be held Wednesday night near the White House. They blame Mr. Trump’s rhetoric about Muslims for an increase in discrimination against Muslim Americans.
White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said Iftar “is often done as a community, with people gathering to break their fast together.” The Clinton White House started the tradition of hosting Iftar dinners.
The Imam chosen to lead the call to prayer at the White House Wednesday night is Dawud Abdul-Aziz Agbere, a lieutenant colonel in the Army chaplain corps.
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